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Civilian rescue operation underway in Mariupol as Russian forces enter steel plant

Civilians remain trapped in Mariupol
Civilians remain trapped in Mariupol 02:28

A third rescue operation is underway in Mariupol to help the remaining Ukrainian civilians trapped inside a besieged steel plant, the Red Cross told CBS News. Ukraine's military says Russian troops are now inside the plant — the last stronghold of the city's defenders.

Hundreds of civilians remain trapped in the middle of what has become a fight to the death at the steel works in Mariupol. The civilian rescue operation is underway following the successful evacuation of more than 400 civilians last week.

Ukraine Russia
Smoke rises from the Metallurgical Combine Azovstal in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People's Republic, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, May 4, 2022. Alexei Alexandrov / AP

International Committee of the Red Cross spokesperson Chris Hanger called it a "very difficult and dangerous operation."

"It's an active conflict," he said. "The routes might be dangerous. There might be active fighting ongoing in the surrounding areas."

Although fighting continues in Mariupol, Russian offensive has already moved on from the coastal city. A U.S. official tells CBS News around 10,000 troops have pushed north, part of an advance that has swallowed towns in its path.

One of those towns is Azov, located just north of Mariupol. The Malnychenko family told CBS News they escaped with their lives. 

After surviving the massacre in Bucha, Yuka Malnychenko begged her family to flee from the south.

"I was just saying 'Please, get out of there. Please, just leave!'" Malnychenko said.

She said, smiling and hugging her brother, that her family is now reunited.

Despite Russia's persistent onslaught, Ukrainian forces are holding the line — though there is further U.S. intelligence to suggest that Russia will try to forcibly annex the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as the southern city of Kherson, in the coming weeks.

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