Russia has claimed Mariupol has fallen, with 2,000 fighters in a factory surrounded.
The besieged southern city has been a major target over the course of Russian president Vladimir Putin's 'special military operation'.
According to defence minister Sergei Shoigu, the city has been taken by Russian forces.
An estimated 2,000 fighters remain inside the Azovstal steelworks, as well as 1,000 civilians. Earlier this week, Russia-backed separatists began advancing towards the plant in 'attack groups formed for storming the facility'.
However, Putin ordered the Russian military to cancel these plans, instead requesting it to be blockaded so a 'fly' couldn't pass unnoticed.
As per Sky News, Putin said: "I consider the proposed storming of the industrial zone unnecessary. I order you to cancel it.
"There is no need to climb into these catacombs and crawl underground through these industrial facilities. Block off this industrial area so that a fly cannot not pass through."
Shoigu has since told Putin: "Mariupol has been liberated by Russian forces and forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic, with a small amount of extremists remaining in the industrial zone."
Putin is hailing Russia's "liberation" of Mariupol after his forces completely destroyed during a two-month siege.— max seddon (@maxseddon) April 21, 2022
He told defense minister Sergei Shoigu to block off the Azovstal metallurgical plant, where the last Ukrainian troops are holed up, "so that a fly can't get in." pic.twitter.com/g2lNd44qXF
Ukraine said the Russians dropped heavy bombs to flatten what was left of the steelworks, believed to be the city’s last pocket of resistance.
A Ukrainian apparently in the facility posted a Facebook video urging world leaders to help evacuate people, saying: “We have more than 500 wounded soldiers and hundreds of civilians with us, including women and children.”
The officer identified himself as Serhiy Volynsky of the 36th Marine Brigade and warned: “This may be our last appeal. We may have only a few days or hours left.”
A Ukrainian marine holed up inside Mariupol's steelworks has told Sky News that they are outnumbered 10 to one by the Russians who have encircled them.— Sky News (@SkyNews) April 20, 2022
Latest: https://t.co/RIOGtmn1Zq pic.twitter.com/ly9CxASZa2
The Russian side issued a new ultimatum to the defenders to surrender, but the Ukrainians have ignored all previous demands.
More than 100,000 people overall were believed trapped in Mariupol with little if any food, water, medicine or heat. Prior to Putin's invasion, the city’s population was around 400,000.
According to deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk, four evacuation buses have managed to escape the city through the humanitarian corridor.
In a Telegram message, she said: "They spent the night in Berdyansk and are now heading to Vasylivka. We are waiting for them in Zaporizhia soon. Today we continue to evacuate women, children and the elderly."
If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information
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