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The evacuation effort of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol reportedly failed for the second time Sunday, after pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine’s National Guard accused each other of failing to establish a humanitarian corridor.
Ukrainian authorities had planned to evacuate 200,000 people from the city of about 400,000, Reuters reported.
A member of the Azov Regiment of the National Guard told Ukraine 24 that Russian forces encircled the port city and continued shelling the area despite a promised ceasefire.
An official of the Donetsk separatist administration accused Ukrainian forces of failing to abide by the ceasefire, Interfax news agency reported.
Smoke rise from an air defence base in the aftermath of an apparent Russian strike in Mariupol, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russian troops have launched their anticipated attack on Ukraine. Big explosions were heard before dawn in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa as world leaders decried the start of Russian invasion that could cause massive casualties and topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka) (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
The evacuation effort failed on Saturday as well, as Russian forces continued to shell the city.
Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said thousands of residents had gathered for safe passage when shelling began and the evacuation was stopped Saturday. Later in the day, he said the attack had escalated further.
“The city is in a very, very difficult state of siege,” Boychenko told Ukrainian TV. “Relentless shelling of residential blocks is ongoing, airplanes have been dropping bombs on residential areas. The Russian occupants are using heavy artillery, including Grad multiple rocket launchers.”
Video footage Sunday showed buses streaming into the city to aid the evacuation.
Only a few hundred people have successfully evacuated the city, SkyNews reported.
Capturing Mariupol could allow Russia to establish a land corridor to Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.
“Ukraine is bleeding,” Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a video released Saturday, “but Ukraine has not fallen.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.