“Everything shook”: Last civilians leave Ukraine steel mill

ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine (AP) — Pale and drawn, the last civilians sheltering in bunkers beneath a sprawling steel mill in the decimated Ukrainian port city of Mariupol arrived late Sunday night in Zaporizhzhia, the first major Ukrainian city beyond the frontlines.

The shattered survivors spoke of constant shelling, dwindling food, ubiquitous mold — and using hand sanitizer for cooking fuel.

Ten buses slowly pulled into Zaporizhzhia’s deserted streets under darkness, carrying 174 evacuees from the Mariupol area. They included more than 30 of the 51 civilians evacuated in the last day from the Azovstal steel mill, where an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian fighters are making what appears to be their last stand. Both Ukrainian and Russian officials have said these civilians are the last non-combatants from the industrial complex.

“It was terrible in the bunkers,” said 69-year-old Lyubov Andropova, who had been in Azovstal since March 10. “Water would run down from the ceilings. There was mold everywhere. We were worried for the children, for their lungs.”

The shelling was constant, and there was fear “that our bunker would collapse,” she said. “Everything shook, we didn’t go out.”

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