130,000 people still remain in Mariupol: Mayor

Vadym Boichenko, the Mayor of Mariupol, has said that at least 130,000 people still remain stuck in the besieged Ukrainian city where a Russian blockade has been in place since March 1.

Addressing reporters on Monday, the Mayor said: “130,000 civilians remain in Mariupol. The enemy has destroyed all of our municipal buses. First there were 150 of them, then 100, then 50 – and now, zero. Everything is destroyed.

“Since March 13 we have managed to open a (humanitarian) corridor even in the absence of a ceasefire, to allow at least people in private cars to leave the city and go to Berdiansk. Today this route still operates, but with interruptions. The corridor from Berdiansk to Zaporizhzhya also works, but with great difficulty.”

According to the Mayor, nearly 90,000 Mariupol residents were able to leave the blockaded eastern city for Zaporizhzhya via Berdiansk, reports Ukrayinska Pravda.

Around 70,000 Mariupol residents are now housed in villages around Zaporizhzhia, Boichenko added.

He further claimed that not only does the Russian forces stop Ukrainian aid to the city, but they also steal the relief materials.

The Mayor added that at least 15 buses were currently stuck in the village of Vasylivka in the Zaporizhzhia region, not being able to pass the Russian blockade into Mariupol.

“We beg the international community to unite to ensure a complete evacuation of Mariupol residents,” Ukrayinska Pravda quoted the Mayor as saying.

Since the Russian blockade in Mariupol began on March 1, some 5,000 people have been killed and 150,000 were evacuated from the strategic Ukrainian port city, according to preliminary estimates.

Meanwhile, 90 per cent of the high-rise apartment buildings in the city have been damaged, of which 1,560 (60 per cent) were directly hit by Russian missiles, bombs, or artillery, and 1,040 (40 per cent) were completely destroyed.

At least 61,200 private residences have been damaged, while a total of seven hospitals were also hit.

On March 28, the Mayor had called for the complete evacuation of the city as there is no water, light, heat or any means of communication.

Mariupol is key to Russia’s ongoing invasion. If the city falls, it would give Russia control of one of Ukraine’s biggest ports and create a land corridor between Crimea and the Russian-backed regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.

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