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Russia offered her money and an apartment in Russia or to stay in Mariupol and rebuild, but she declined and left the plant on Sunday as part of the group allowed to evacuate.

After weeks of failed rescue efforts, a steady flow of civilians has left the city in recent days and busloads of people — including those evacuated from the Azovstal planthave arrived in the relative safety of Zaporizhzhia.

Despite the relief of the evacuees to be out of the plant and in a safe city, many were still burdened with concern for family left behind.

“I’m very worried about my husband, very much, because he is defending our Mariupol,” said Oksana Maidenyuk, 40, who left Mariupol with her two sons. “I wish the military would leave and my husband would be with me.”

Maidenyuk and other evacuees told of their escape from the sprawling plant in the eastern part of the port city, where Mariupol’s last defenders are holding out against Russian forces.

The rest of the city has been overtaken by the Russian military, which blocked the plant and bombed it for weeks until a temporary cease-fire was reached with the U.N. to evacuate civilians like Maidenyuk.

Mariupol is a strategically important city in southeastern Ukraine that borders the Azov Sea. Early in the invasion, Russian forces made it a focus of their campaign and encircled it. Residents faced regular strikes, dwindling food supplies and no electricity, heat or water.

Divided into groups of 15 as they left the plant, evacuees described how they were then loaded onto buses and driven from the site to another area where Russian forces stripped them to look for nationalist tattoos, then took photos and fingerprints.

Red Cross officials gave few details on how Russia and Ukraine agreed on the evacuations from the plant, with a spokesman calling it a “very delicate operation.”

“It’s a progressive trust-building exercise, which is important as our role as neutral intermediary,” said Red Cross spokesman Chris Hanger. “We wish we would have gotten more civilians out.”

Source: This post first appeared on NBC News

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