Russia resumes bombardment of Azovstal steel works

Red Cross says more than 100 civilians were successfully evacuated from the besieged port city of Mariupol

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The Red Cross vowed on Tuesday not to “spare any effort” to reach the citizens of Mariupol who remain in the bombed out city after 101 were evacuated.

Russia renewed its assault on the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol shortly after a UN-brokered ceasefire ended.

About 200 civilians — mostly women and children — remain trapped in tunnels underneath the strategic port site, where fighters from Ukraine's Azov regiment have put up bitter resistance against the Russian encirclement for more than two months.

While it said it was an “immense relief” that 101 civilians were out of the plant, “the Red Cross has not forgotten the people who are still there”, it said in a statement.

It was the first completed civilian evacuation from the giant Azovstal steel factory, where Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have been trapped for weeks as Russian forces have besieged and pummelled the city.

A convoy of buses and ambulances containing the evacuees reached safety on Tuesday in the eastern city Zaporizhzhia, situated about 200 kilometres from Mariupol on the Dnipro river.

The Red Cross said those trapped under the city have “lived through unimaginable horror".

“It is an immense relief that some civilians who have suffered for weeks are now out,” said ICRC President Peter Maurer. He said those left behind in Mariupol were in dire need of humanitarian relief and that his organisation would “not spare any effort” to reach them.

Russia pounded the steel works with an aerial and artillery bombardment throughout Monday night following the breakdown of the ceasefire, according to Ukrainian forces.

“A powerful assault on the territory of the Azovstal plant is under way with support from armoured vehicles and tanks,” Capt Sviatoslav Palamar, deputy commander of Ukraine's Azov military unit, said in a statement on social media. Russian forces are also attempting “to land a large number of infantry by boat,” he said.

“We will do everything we can to repel this assault, but we call for immediate measures to evacuate civilians who are on the territory of the plant,” he said.

The Russian defence ministry accused members of the Azov battalion and other Ukrainian troops of using the lull in fighting to once again take up their combat positions at the plant.

French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Tuesday that a ceasefire was needed in Ukraine and that he was deeply concerned about the situation in Donbas and Mariupol.

“I have called on Russia to live up to its international responsibility as a UN Security Council member by putting an end to this devastating attack,” Mr Macron is quoted as saying in a statement.

During the call, Mr Putin accused Kyiv of not taking talks to end the conflict seriously.

Mr Putin accused of the EU of ignoring “war crimes” committed by Ukrainian forces during the conflict and claimed the government in Kyiv was not ready for “serious work” to end the conflict.

“The Russian side is still open to dialogue,” the Russian leader told Mr Macron, according to the Kremlin.

Updated: May 03, 2022, 4:17 PM