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Surviving Azovstal – dozens evacuated from steel plant but will never escape the 'living hell' of Mariupol

After many delays, the convoy finally arrives. The first thing we see is a Police car with its lights flashing.

It is accompanied by five coaches that transport people who have defied all odds and managed to escape the Azovstal steelworks.

The Soviet-era plant is now a symbol for Ukrainian resistance and defiance.

The story of hope has been witnessed and documented by a multitude of journalists.


It is also a rare victory for diplomacy during a conflict that has no signs of ending.

Some of the evacuees are confused as they get off the bus, while others are shocked at the reception. They are all relieved to have survived.

Ukraine News Live: Mariupol Evacuees Reach Safety As Steelworks ‘turning into A Tomb’

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Image The coaches of Mariupol refugees have managed to escape

Oksana and her children arrived in Canada after she spent several weeks underground.

She told me that she believed they would never make it out alive.

“They bomb Azovstal every day. They are using jets. It was calm when we were evacuated, but it was very scary because they bombed us for two months from all sides, by sea, air, and with rockets.

Friday was the start of the evacuation. The evacuation mission began on Friday. It has been destroyed in many places.

They feared for the safety of their fragile ceasefire all through the operation.

Finally, the evacuees were brought to a camp on Russian-occupied territory. There they were searched and fingerprints taken.

They were only then allowed to leave.

Many families of those who were trapped in the steelworks feared they would not see their loved ones again when Ukraine is regained.

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Civilians flee ceasefire

There are still fears for those who remain trapped as new terrifying reports of atrocities emerge in a city that has been completely destroyed.

Mariupol still has 100,000 civilians living in terrible conditions.

Some people managed to flee on their own after the ceasefire.

Many arrived in battered cars, with stories of survival and terror.

Natasha said that the past few months had been “beyond scary”.

She said that her home had become “a living hell”.

Marina is our guest in the aid tent. Marina still can’t believe that she is here with her children.

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She shows me photos she has smuggled onto an SD card, through many Russian checkpoints.

After every neighbourhood, there has been destruction.

She says that there are many newly-digged cemeteries all around the city.

“A woman from my block was just covered up after she was bombed. Because the shelling was constant and no one could get there, nobody touched her.

“And also, her body was torn apart, and it was shocking for people who tried to gather the pieces. For 20 days, she lied like this and the animals began to eat her remains.”

Many civilians are still trapped in the Azovstal work and many fighters refuse to surrender.

They will never know what happens.

Image These refugees have overcome all odds
Image Mariupol still has 100,000 civilians living in terrible conditions

Russia has reopened its assault on the plant, making it difficult to bring more people to safety.

It’s a time for those who have survived to be with their loved ones. But it will be hard to forget the things they saw and left behind.


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