Some civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol after the introduction of a ceasefire, according to a commander of the Azov Regiment, one of the Ukrainian soldiers stranded at the plant.
Captain Svyatoslav Palamar, deputy commander of the Azov Regiment, said the ceasefire, which was supposed to start at 6 am local time, ended up starting at 11 am local time.
“As of now, it’s the truth, both sides follow the ceasefire regime,” he said.
The evacuation convoy was very late, he said. “Since 6 am we have been waiting for the evacuation convoy to arrive, which only arrived at 6:25 pm”
“We brought 20 civilians to the agreed meeting point, which we managed to rescue from under the rubble. They are women and children. We hope that these people will go to the agreed destination, which is Zaporizhzhia, the territory controlled by Ukraine,” Palamar said.
“As of now, the rescue operation is ongoing, conducted by Azov’s military – we rescued civilians from under the rubble,” he added.
“It’s women, children and the elderly,” he said in a video message on the regiment’s Telegram channel.
“We hope that this process will be extended and that we will successfully evacuate all civilians,” he said.
“As for the wounded – those people who need urgent medical care – it is unclear to us why they are not being evacuated and their evacuation to Ukrainian-controlled territory is not being discussed,” he added.
“I emphasize that we ask to ensure the evacuation not only for civilians, but also for our wounded servicemen who need medical care.”
TASS, Russia’s state news agency, said on Saturday that a group of civilians had left the steel mill. A correspondent at the scene told TASS that a total of 25 people came out, including six children under the age of 14. CNN cannot independently verify the TASS report.
There are believed to be hundreds of people inside the steelworks complex, including dozens injured during intense Russian bombing in recent weeks. The latest satellite images of the plant show that many of its buildings have been reduced to ruins.
Supporters of the Azovstal plant said the attacks on Wednesday night hit the makeshift hospital inside the complex, greatly increasing the number of injured.
Here’s what a part of the plant looked like approximately six weeks ago: