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Mayor Mariupol said contact with Ukrainian forces at the Azovstal factory was lost as fierce fighting continued.


Pro-Russian troops stand guard next to a bus carrying evacuees near a temporary accommodation center in the village of Bezimenne in the Donetsk Region, Ukraine, May 1.
Pro-Russian troops stand guard next to a bus carrying evacuees near a temporary accommodation center in the village of Bezimenne in the Donetsk Region, Ukraine, on May 1 (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said that in the 24 hours to 8 am on Wednesday (local time), a total of 517 people were evacuated from the besieged city of Mariupol to its center about 15 miles away. (25 km) to the east.

It said 61 of the evacuees were children but it was unclear how many, if any, of the total had been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant.

CNN was unable to verify the reported numbers.

The DPR has set up a tented reception center in Bezimenne, where those leaving Mariupol are screened.

Ukrainian officials have described this and three other similar facilities around Mariupol as filtering centers where people are regularly subjected to abuse and harassment, as well as lengthy delays.

The DPR’s Department of Emergencies manages the center in Bezimenne, which has seen more than 27,000 passers-by since early March, according to DPR.

The Russian Defense Ministry earlier commented on the number of civilians evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol and said some of them had decided to stay in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

Once the evacuees exited the vast complex, they were given the choice to go to Ukrainian territory or territory held by Russia.

State news agency TASS reported that those willing to enter Ukrainian territory will be assigned to representatives of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Some basic information: One CNN investigates In April, it was revealed that Russian forces and allied separatist soldiers were taking Mariupol residents to a so-called “filtering center” set up in Bezimenne, where they were registered before being sent. to Russia – many against their will.

The Ukrainian government and local Mariupol officials say that tens of thousands of Ukrainian citizens have been forcibly deported to the Donetsk People’s Republic and Russia since the war began.

In April, CNN interviewed 10 people, including local Mariupol residents and their loved ones, who were taken to Russian-administered towns by Russian and North Korean soldiers before being deported. export to the Russian Federation.

CNN spoke to two people who were taken to Bezimenne before being taken to Russia. They describe a giant military tent where Russian and North Korean soldiers are handling hundreds of people – fingerprints, photos taken, phones searched, interrogated, passports reviewed. and subscribe to the database.



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