UN races to help civilians at steel plant

The United Nations raced to rescue more civilians trapped in tunnels under a steel plant in Mariupol as Russia nears a complete takeover of the port city.

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World News

May 6, 2022 - 3:20 PM

An aerial view taken on April 12, 2022, shows the city of Mariupol, during Russia's military invasion launched on Ukraine. (Andrey Borodulin/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine (AP) — The United Nations raced Friday to rescue more civilians from the tunnels under a besieged steel plant in Mariupol and the city at large, even as fighters holed up at the sprawling complex made their last stand to prevent Moscow’s complete takeover of the strategic port.

The fight for the last Ukrainian stronghold in a city reduced to ruins by the Russian onslaught appeared increasingly desperate amid growing speculation that President Vladimir Putin wants to finish the battle for Mariupol so he can present a triumph to the Russian people in time for Monday’s Victory Day, the biggest patriotic holiday on the Russian calendar.

Some 2,000 Ukrainian fighters, by Russia’s most recent estimate, are holed up in the vast maze of tunnels and bunkers beneath the Azovstal steelworks, and they have repeatedly refused to surrender. Ukraine has said a few hundred civilians were also trapped there, and fears for their safety have increased as the battle has grown fiercer in recent days.

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