LVIV, Ukraine: Some residents of Ukraine’s besieged city of Mariupol have resorted to escaping the blockade on foot as official evacuation efforts have mostly failed due to ongoing shelling by Russian forces, the region’s governor said on Friday (Mar 18).
Some 400,000 people have been trapped in the strategic port city for over two weeks, sheltering from heavy bombardment that has severed central supplies of electricity, heating and water, according to local authorities.
Russia denies bombing residential areas or targeting civilians.
Speaking on national television, Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said around 35,000 had managed to leave the city in recent days, many leaving on foot or in convoys of private cars.
“The way out of blockaded Mariupol begins with residents getting out either on foot or in their own transport,” Kyrylenko said, adding that some cars were leaving without enough fuel to reach the nearest villages or towns.
He said near-constant shelling was preventing the authorities from opening humanitarian corridors to supply aid and food to the city and to evacuate women, children and those most in need.
Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for the failure of the corridors.
The city council warned Mariupol was running out of its last reserves of food and water last Sunday and has said it is unable to properly treat or tally casualties from the shelling. The Ukrainian authorities estimate over 2,500 residents have been killed in Mariupol since the start of the war on Feb 24.