600 injured in recent shelling of Azovstal steelworks, says Mariupol mayor
The situation inside the beleaguered Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol is “beyond a humanitarian disaster,” a Ukrainian commander inside the facility told CNN.
Major Serhiy Volyna, commander of Ukraine’s 36th Separate Marine Brigade, spoke to CNN on Friday from inside the steel mill, explaining that there were hundreds of people inside the factory, including 60 youngsters, the youngest of whom is four months old.
The Azovstal plant became the last vestige of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol, it resisted the Russian invasion for almost two months.
The pocket of entrenched Ukrainian fighters and civilians sheltering at the factory has become a symbol of the country’s defiance.
Volyna explained that due to a recent Russian strike on the factory’s field hospital, they were left without vital medical equipment, while revealing that they “had very little water, very little food”.
“The operating theater was directly affected. And all the operating equipment, everything necessary to perform the surgery has been destroyed so at the moment we cannot treat our wounded, especially those who have shrapnel and bullet wounds”, a- he declared.
Volyna added: “We are dealing with the injured right now with all the tools we have. We have our army medics and they use all their skills to take care of the wounded. And right now we don’t have any surgical tools but we have some basics. But also, we urgently need medicines. We are almost out of medicine.
According to a statement from the Ukrainian president’s office on Friday, an operation to evacuate civilians from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol is scheduled for Friday. The press release does not provide further details.
Asked about a possible evacuation plan, Volyna said he “didn’t know the details”.
“I know that the mission has arrived in Zaporizhzhia and they will try to mount a rescue operation.”
Volyna said he was in direct communication with President Volodymyr Zelensky, adding that the Ukrainian leader was briefing them “on the situation in Ukraine as a whole and around Mariupol”, while “keeping morale high”.
A Ukrainian official said Friday that Russian forces had cordoned off an area in Mariupol, potentially ahead of another attempt to storm the Azovstal steelworks.
And Volyna does not know how long he and his fellow Ukrainians will be able to resist attacks from Russia.
“We can’t tell you for sure how long we can hold out,” he said. “It all depends on enemy movements and also luck. We have high hopes that we will be evacuated, that the President will be able to evacuate us or extract us and we will just have to hope and see if that happens.
Watch the interview: