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Vladimir Putin’s troops have seized a hospital in Mariupol and are holding 500 Ukrainians hostage, using them as human shields as attacks on the southern city continue.

Russian forces rounded up 400 people from houses neighbouring the seaport’s hospital number two, along with 100 doctors and patients who were already inside, and are refusing to let them leave, according to regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko. 

The terror came against a backdrop of frantic evacuation elsewhere in Mariupol, with around 20,000 fleeing the besieged city along a humanitarian corridor – supposedly safe passages which allow civilians to leave Ukraine.

Amid days of relentless shelling, a mass exodus of civilians in at least 4,000 cars left the seaport via the designated route, which runs west for more than 160 miles to the Ukraine-held city of Zaporizhzhia. 

However, many others remarkably ended up in Russia – after travelling east via the Kremlin’s humanitarian corridor, to the Rostov region. It is unknown how many Ukrainians took this particular route instead.  

But while families rushed to escape in their droves, there were desperate scenes in Mariupol’s hospitals, which continue to be under attack from Putin’s forces.

In the city’s hospital number three, a heartbreaking picture showed tiny premature children who had been left without parents.

And in hospital number two, also known as the intensive care hospital, Russian troops are using those inside as human shields, Kyryklenko said, adding: ‘It’s impossible to leave the hospital, they are shooting hard.’

Kyrylenko said the main building of the hospital has been heavily damaged by shelling, but medical staff are continuing to treat patients in makeshift wards set up in the basement.

He called on the world to respond to these ‘gross violations of the norms and customs of war, these egregious crimes against humanity.’

The Ukrainian army’s General Staff says Russian troops are trying to block off the city from the western and eastern outskirts of the city. ‘There are significant losses,’ it said in a Facebook post.  

In the city's hospital number three, a heartbreaking picture showed tiny premature children who had been left without parents

In the city's hospital number three, a heartbreaking picture showed tiny premature children who had been left without parents

In the city’s hospital number three, a heartbreaking picture showed tiny premature children who had been left without parents

And in hospital number two, also known as the intensive care hospital, Russian troops are using those inside as human shields, Kyryklenko said, adding: 'It's impossible to leave the hospital, they are shooting hard.'

And in hospital number two, also known as the intensive care hospital, Russian troops are using those inside as human shields, Kyryklenko said, adding: 'It's impossible to leave the hospital, they are shooting hard.'

And in hospital number two, also known as the intensive care hospital, Russian troops are using those inside as human shields, Kyryklenko said, adding: ‘It’s impossible to leave the hospital, they are shooting hard.’

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a deputy head of office of Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said around 20,000 people have so far managed to leave the city. Tymoshenko said 570 of some 4,000 vehicles that left the city have reached the city of Zaporizhzhia some 160 miles northwest while others will spend the night in various towns along the way. Pictured: Urainians fleeing Mariupol arrive in Zaporizhzhia on Tuesday

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a deputy head of office of Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said around 20,000 people have so far managed to leave the city. Tymoshenko said 570 of some 4,000 vehicles that left the city have reached the city of Zaporizhzhia some 160 miles northwest while others will spend the night in various towns along the way. Pictured: Urainians fleeing Mariupol arrive in Zaporizhzhia on Tuesday

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a deputy head of office of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said around 20,000 people have so far managed to leave the city. Tymoshenko said 570 of some 4,000 vehicles that left the city have reached the city of Zaporizhzhia some 160 miles northwest while others will spend the night in various towns along the way. Pictured: Urainians fleeing Mariupol arrive in Zaporizhzhia on Tuesday

Civilians, evacuating from Mariupol due to increased Russian attacks over region, are seen in a building in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on Tuesday

Civilians, evacuating from Mariupol due to increased Russian attacks over region, are seen in a building in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on Tuesday

Civilians, evacuating from Mariupol due to increased Russian attacks over region, are seen in a building in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on Tuesday

Civilians, evacuating from Mariupol due to increased Russian attacks over region, are placed at the circus building in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on Tuesday

Civilians, evacuating from Mariupol due to increased Russian attacks over region, are placed at the circus building in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on Tuesday

Civilians, evacuating from Mariupol due to increased Russian attacks over region, are placed at the circus building in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on Tuesday 

But for some desperate civilians fleeing Mariupol, they travelled via a 'humanitarian corridor' set up by the Russian military to the Rostov region in Russia. It is unknown how many Ukrainians took this particular route. Pictured: A Russian soldier with people evacuated from Mariupol on a bus on the Ukraine-Russia border at the border crossing point Veselo-Voznesenka in the Rostov region, Russia, on Tuesday

But for some desperate civilians fleeing Mariupol, they travelled via a 'humanitarian corridor' set up by the Russian military to the Rostov region in Russia. It is unknown how many Ukrainians took this particular route. Pictured: A Russian soldier with people evacuated from Mariupol on a bus on the Ukraine-Russia border at the border crossing point Veselo-Voznesenka in the Rostov region, Russia, on Tuesday

But for some desperate civilians fleeing Mariupol, they travelled via a ‘humanitarian corridor’ set up by the Russian military to the Rostov region in Russia. It is unknown how many Ukrainians took this particular route. Pictured: A Russian soldier with people evacuated from Mariupol on a bus on the Ukraine-Russia border at the border crossing point Veselo-Voznesenka in the Rostov region, Russia, on Tuesday

Ukrainian servicemen and volunteers carry a man injured during a shelling attack into a hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine on Tuesday

Ukrainian servicemen and volunteers carry a man injured during a shelling attack into a hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine on Tuesday

Ukrainian servicemen and volunteers carry a man injured during a shelling attack into a hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine on Tuesday

Russia has announced the establishment of safe corridors to allow civilians to leave Ukraine, but there have appeared to be few takers. Among those fleeing Mariupol on buses travelling to the Rostov region in Russia on Tuesday were mainly elderly people.  

Evacuation routes established by Moscow have led mostly to Russia and its ally Belarus, drawing withering criticism from Ukraine and the West. And Russia has continued to pound the cities with rockets even after the announcement of corridors.  

A chief Ukrainian official said around 20,000 people have so far managed to flee Mariupol via the humanitarian corridor, and 570 of the 4,000 vehicles that left the city have reached Zaporizhzhia while others will spend the night in various towns along the way.  

Mariupol has been besieged by Russian troops for more than 10 days, facing heavy shelling that has killed more than 2,300 people and left residents struggling for food, water, heat and medicine.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a deputy head of office of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said an estimated 20,000 civilians used a humanitarian corridor from Mariupol to the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia on Tuesday. It comes after a few dozen vehicles managed to leave yesterday. 

Tymoshenko said that the evacuees left Mariupol in an estimated 4,000 private vehicles via the route on Tuesday, adding that 570 of the cars had reached Zaporizhzhia. Others will spend Tuesday night in various towns along the way. 

Drivers can only make slow progress due to damaged roads, mines and checkpoints.   

Earlier Tuesday, the authorities said that some 2,000 civilian cars had been able to drive out of the city. A first group of 160 cars left Mariupol on Monday, the city council said. 

The successful evacuations come after several failed attempts since Russian forces surrounded the port city on the Azov Sea early this month. Heavy bombardment has left some 400,000 inhabitants with no running water or heating and food running short.

A family are seen inside a building in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, after they were evacuated from Mariupol on Tuesday

A family are seen inside a building in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, after they were evacuated from Mariupol on Tuesday

A family are seen inside a building in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, after they were evacuated from Mariupol on Tuesday

People injured by shelling lay in the hall of hospital number 3 in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Tuesday

People injured by shelling lay in the hall of hospital number 3 in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Tuesday

People injured by shelling lay in the hall of hospital number 3 in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Tuesday

Buses with people evacuated from Mariupol arrive to the Ukraine-Russia border at the border crossing point Veselo-Voznesenka in the Rostov region, Russia, on Tuesday

Buses with people evacuated from Mariupol arrive to the Ukraine-Russia border at the border crossing point Veselo-Voznesenka in the Rostov region, Russia, on Tuesday

Buses with people evacuated from Mariupol arrive to the Ukraine-Russia border at the border crossing point Veselo-Voznesenka in the Rostov region, Russia, on Tuesday

Some Ukrainians have travelled via a ‘humanitarian corridor’ set up by the Russian military to the Rostov region in Russia. Ukraine has criticised Moscow for establishing evacuation routes that mainly go to Russia. 

Human rights groups and humanitarian agencies say that a tactic of bombing cities at the same time as establishing humanitarian corridors, essentially gives residents a brutal choice between fleeing into the arms of their attackers or dying under bombardment.

They said the offer also gives an illusion of legitimacy to the mass slaughter of civilians who remain behind once the siege resumes in full force. 

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Tuesday the situation in Mariupol ‘remains dire’ and that it was not able to deliver aid to the city.

‘The bottom line is that hundreds of thousands of people are still suffering,’ the ICRC said.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that altogether, nearly 29,000 people managed to use humanitarian routes to flee encircled cities on Tuesday.

Nearly three weeks into the war, the number of Ukrainians fleeing abroad passed 3 million on Tuesday, the United Nations said. Some 3,000,381 people have so far left Ukraine, data from the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) showed. It is basing its aid plans on 4 million refugees but has said the figure will likely increase.

New efforts to bring civilians to safety and deliver aid were underway around the country. The Red Cross said it was working to evacuate people in about 70 buses from the northeastern town of Sumy, near the Russian border.

Russia has announced the establishment of safe corridors to allow civilians to leave Ukraine, but there have appeared to be few takers. Among those fleeing Mariupol on buses travelling to the Rostov region in Russia on Tuesday were mainly elderly people

Russia has announced the establishment of safe corridors to allow civilians to leave Ukraine, but there have appeared to be few takers. Among those fleeing Mariupol on buses travelling to the Rostov region in Russia on Tuesday were mainly elderly people

Russia has announced the establishment of safe corridors to allow civilians to leave Ukraine, but there have appeared to be few takers. Among those fleeing Mariupol on buses travelling to the Rostov region in Russia on Tuesday were mainly elderly people

Evacuation routes established by Moscow have led mostly to Russia and its ally Belarus, drawing withering criticism from Ukraine and the West. And Russia has continued to pound the cities with rockets even after the announcement of corridors. Pictured: Refugees from Mariupol sit in a bus crossing the Ukraine-Russia border at the border crossing point Veselo-Voznesenka in the Rostov region, Russia, on Tuesday

Evacuation routes established by Moscow have led mostly to Russia and its ally Belarus, drawing withering criticism from Ukraine and the West. And Russia has continued to pound the cities with rockets even after the announcement of corridors. Pictured: Refugees from Mariupol sit in a bus crossing the Ukraine-Russia border at the border crossing point Veselo-Voznesenka in the Rostov region, Russia, on Tuesday

Evacuation routes established by Moscow have led mostly to Russia and its ally Belarus, drawing withering criticism from Ukraine and the West. And Russia has continued to pound the cities with rockets even after the announcement of corridors. Pictured: Refugees from Mariupol sit in a bus crossing the Ukraine-Russia border at the border crossing point Veselo-Voznesenka in the Rostov region, Russia, on Tuesday

A firefighter walks outside a destroyed apartment building after a bombing in a residential area in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday

A firefighter walks outside a destroyed apartment building after a bombing in a residential area in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday

A firefighter walks outside a destroyed apartment building after a bombing in a residential area in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday

Former boxing champion Klitschko announced today a 36-hour curfew from 8pm (6pm GMT) on Tuesday until 7am (5am GMT) on Thursday at the 'decision of the military command' after an apartment building in Kyiv was hit this morning, killing at least four people (pictured)

Former boxing champion Klitschko announced today a 36-hour curfew from 8pm (6pm GMT) on Tuesday until 7am (5am GMT) on Thursday at the 'decision of the military command' after an apartment building in Kyiv was hit this morning, killing at least four people (pictured)

Former boxing champion Klitschko announced today a 36-hour curfew from 8pm (6pm GMT) on Tuesday until 7am (5am GMT) on Thursday at the ‘decision of the military command’ after an apartment building in Kyiv was hit this morning, killing at least four people (pictured)

But conditions in other cities continue to worsen. On Tuesday, Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko put a three-day curfew in place in the capital – barring civilians from going outside and warning them to prepare for heavy bombardment by Putin’s men. 

With the number of people driven from the country by the war eclipsing 3 million, large explosions thundered across Kyiv before dawn from what Ukrainian authorities said were artillery strikes, as Russia’s assault on the capital appeared to become more systematic and edged closer to the city center.  

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said barrages hit four multi-story buildings in the city and killed dozens of people. The shelling ignited a huge fire in a 15-story apartment building and spurred a frantic rescue effort.

The strikes, carried out of the 20th day of Russia’s invasion, targeted a western district of Kyiv, disrupting a relative calm that returned after an initial advance by Moscow’s forces was stopped in the early days of the war.

A senior U.S. defense official, speaking condition of anonymity to discuss the Pentagon’s assessment, said the Russians were using long-range fire to hit civilian targets within Kyiv with increasing frequency but that their ground forces were making little to no progress around the country. The official said Russian troops were still about 9 miles from the center of Kyiv.

The official said the U.S. has seen indications that Russia believes it may need more troops or supplies than it has on hand in Ukraine, and it is considering ways to get more resources into the country. The official did not elaborate.

Russia has launched more than 950 missiles so far in the war, and both Russia and Ukraine still retain about 90% of their combat power, the official said. 

In the east, Russian forces unleashed scores of new artillery strikes on downtown Kharkiv, hitting the city’s historical center, including its main marketplace. Rescuers were pulling the bodies of dead civilians from destroyed apartment buildings.       

Alexandra, 86, cries after her apartment was destroyed by a Russian grad rocket attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine on Tuesday

Alexandra, 86, cries after her apartment was destroyed by a Russian grad rocket attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine on Tuesday

Alexandra, 86, cries after her apartment was destroyed by a Russian grad rocket attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine on Tuesday

First responders work in a building that was struck by a Russian rocket attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday

First responders work in a building that was struck by a Russian rocket attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday

First responders work in a building that was struck by a Russian rocket attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday

Source: DailyMail

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