Updated May 2, 2022 - World

Mariupol steel plant evacuees recount dire scenes in bunkers

Smoke rises from the grounds of the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol on April 29.

Smoke rises from the grounds of the Azovstal steel plant on Friday, as Russian forces bombard Ukrainian forces' last holdout in Mariupol. Photo: Andrey Borodulin/AFP via Getty Images

Russian forces shelled the Azovstal steel plant soon after some civilians were evacuated from the besieged facility, Ukrainian military officials said ahead of fresh evacuations planned for Ukraine's final stronghold in Mariupol on Monday.

Details: Ukraine National Guard brigade commander Denys Shlega said in a TV address Sunday night that "as soon as the last civilian" from the group of evacuees left the plant it "came under fire again" as several hundred remaining civilians were sheltering, including up to 20 children, per Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said about 100 civilians were evacuated from the plant on Sunday.
  • Those evacuees were expected to arrive in the city of Zaporizhzhia on Monday, according to Zelensky.

The big picture: A Doctors Without Borders team was waiting for the displaced Mariupol residents in Zaporizhzhia on Monday, with officials concerned that the evacuees may have been left weak after being trapped underground for so long and with food supplies low, per AP.

What they're saying: One woman evacuated from the plant on Sunday said it was "running out of food," while a mother with a six-month-old baby noted that they'd been trapped underground in the facility's bunkers for two months, per the BBC.

  • Evacuee Natalia Usmanova, 37, told Reuters Sunday she feared the bunker she was in "would not withstand" the constant shelling from Russian forces.
  • "When the bunker started to shake, I was hysterical, my husband can vouch for that. I was so worried the bunker would cave in," she said.
  • Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko told the BBC that "the citizens who left the city say that hell exists, and it's in Mariupol."

What to watch: Mariupol City Council said in a Telegram post Monday that the United Nations and the Red Cross had coordinated an evacuation convoy to leave the southeastern port city later in the day.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details, including on the evacuees and Doctors Without Borders.

Go deeper