Some civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol after a ceasefire was declared, according to a commander of the Azov regiment, one of the Ukrainian soldiers trapped at the plant.
Captain Svyatoslav Palamar, deputy commander of the Azov regiment, said the ceasefire, which was supposed to start at 6 a.m. local time, ended up starting at 11 a.m.
“For now, it’s the truth, both sides are following the ceasefire regime,” he said.
The evacuation convoy was severely delayed, he said. “Since 6 a.m., we have been waiting for the arrival of the evacuation convoy, which only arrived at 6:25 p.m.”
“We brought 20 civilians to the agreed meeting point, which we managed to save from the rubble. They are women and children. We hope that these people will come to the agreed destination, namely Zaporizhzhia, the territory controlled by the Ukraine,” says Palamar.
“At the moment the rescue operation is underway, carried out by the Azov military – we are rescuing civilians from the rubble,” he added.
“They are women, children and the elderly,” he said in a video message on the regiment’s Telegram channel.
“We hope that this process will be further prolonged and that we will succeed in evacuating all civilians,” he said.
“As for the wounded – those people who need urgent medical attention – we don’t know why they are not being evacuated and their evacuation to Ukrainian-controlled territory is not discussed,” he added.
“I emphasize that we are asking to guarantee evacuation not only for civilians but also for our wounded soldiers who need medical attention.”
TASS, the Russian state news agency, said earlier on Saturday that a group of civilians had left the steelworks. A correspondent at the scene told TASS that a total of 25 people walked out, including six children under the age of 14. CNN cannot independently verify information from TASS.
There are believed to be hundreds of people inside the steel complex, including dozens injured in heavy Russian bombardment in recent weeks. The latest satellite images of the factory show that many of its buildings have been reduced to rubble.
Defenders of the Azovstal plant said Wednesday night’s bombings hit the makeshift hospital inside the complex, dramatically increasing the number of injured.
Here’s what part of the factory looked like about six weeks ago: