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The Independent UK

Ukraine starts evacuating civilians from Sumy and Irpin after devastating bombing

AFP via Getty Images

Ukraine has begun evacuating civilians from the northeastern city of Sumy and from the town of Irpin near the capital Kyiv today, officials said, after days of heavy aerial bombardment by Russian forces.

The evacuations started after Russian and Ukrainian officials agreed to establish “humanitarian corridors” to allow civilians out of some towns and cities besieged by Russian forces.

“As of 9.30am (07.30 GMT), more than 150 people have been evacuated and [evacuation] activities are underway,” said Oleksiy Kuleba, governor of the Kyiv region.

Civilians have been trapped by fighting since Russian troops invaded Ukraine on 24 February. Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation”.

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Russia opened humanitarian corridors on Tuesday so that people can be evacuated from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol, the Interfax news agency quoted the Russian defence ministry as saying.

The defence ministry added that Russian forces in Ukraine had introduced a “silent regime” from 7amGMT, Interfax reported.

Ukraine on Monday rejected Russian proposals to evacuate Ukrainians to Russia or Belarus.

A Ukrainian serviceman helps evacuees gathered under a destroyed bridge, as they flee the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on 7 March (AFP via Getty Images)

Dmytro Zhyvytsky, the governor of the Sumy region, said in a video statement that a second column of civilians would leave Sumy at around 11am GMT.

Oleksiy Kuleba, governor of the Kyiv region, said more than 150 people had been evacuated from Irpin by 7.30am GMT.

People remove debris at the site of a military base building that, according to the Ukrainian ground forces, was destroyed by an air strike, in the town of Okhtyrka in the Sumy region (via REUTERS)

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said 30 buses were also en route to collect evacuees from the port city of Mariupol.

There were signs Russian forces were firing in the direction of a route for humanitarian aid, she added, without providing further details.

Civilians have been trapped by fighting since Russian troops invaded Ukraine on 24 February, and officials say food, water and other supplies have been running low in some cities.

Authorities in the Sumy region said 21 civilians, including two children, had been killed in a Russian air strike on a residential street in Sumy late on Monday. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said a child had died of dehydration in Mariupol.

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