Ukraine says evacuation from Mariupol plant planned for Friday

Smoke rises above a Azovstal Iron and Steel Works plant in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 25, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

KYIV (AFP) - Kyiv said on Friday (April 29) plans were in place to evacuate civilians from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the southern city of Mariupol where Ukrainian forces and civilians are encircled by Russian troops.

"An operation to evacuate civilians from the Azovstal factory is planned for today," the Ukrainian presidency said in a statement.

Russia last week said it had gained full control of the strategic port city, except for the huge Azovstal industrial area.

President Vladimir Putin ordered a blockade of the steelworks, where hundreds of civilians are sheltering with Ukrainian troops, according to Kyiv, including those requiring medical attention.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said this week that the United Nations was doing everything possible to ensure the evacuation of civilians from the "apocalypse" in Mariupol.

A UN representative to Ukraine said during the visit she was travelling to the central city of Zaporizhzhia to prepare for a "hopeful" evacuation.

"The UN is fully mobilised to help save Ukrainian lives and to assist those in need," UN in Ukraine Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator Osnat Lubrani said.

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