Russian artillery is hitting an industrial zone where 500 civilians are sheltering in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk, the regional governor has said, and a bridge out of the city has been blown up, as fears grow for those who have not yet managed to leave, The Guardian reported.
“Russians continue to storm the city, having a significant advantage in artillery they have somewhat pushed back the Ukrainian soldiers,” said Serhiy Haidai, governor of the Luhansk region, in a morning report on his Telegram channel.
“The Russians are destroying quarter after quarter,” Haidai said, adding that the Russian army had been “partially successful at night” and controlled 70 per cent of the city.
The destruction by Russian forces of a bridge over the Siverskyi Donets river leaves stranded civilians with just one remaining bridge to escape west to the neighbouring city of Lysychansk, which is also being shelled but remains in Ukrainian hands, The Guardian reported.
“If after new shelling the bridge collapses, the city will truly be cut off. There will be no way of leaving Sievierodonetsk in a vehicle,” Haidai said.
There are fears that a scenario similar to the one seen in the southern port city of Mariupol, where hundreds of people were trapped for weeks in the Azovstal steelworks, could play out in Sievierodonetsk’s Azot chemical plant, where Haidai said 500 civilians were sheltering, 40 of them children.
Haidai said the Ukrainian side was negotiating the evacuation of civilians from Azot with Moscow but so far failed to reach an agreement.
“We are trying to agree, with the help of [Ukrainian deputy prime minister] Irina Vereshchuk, to organise a corridor, so far it has been unsuccessful,” the official said.
“Azot’s shelters are not as strong as in Mariupol’s Azovstal, so we need to take people out with security guarantees,” Haidai said, as per the report.