Video from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol shows thick columns of smoke rising from the area of the Azovstal steel plant amid the sound of heavy explosions.
Russian forces are launching fresh attacks on the ruined complex, according to official accounts from both sides.
All night long the plant was hit by artillery, naval artillery and aircraft. Two civilian women in one of the bunkers were killed as a result of a massive air strike,” Denys Shlega, a commander in the National Guard, told Ukrainian television from Azovstal.
The Azov regiment posted images of the bodies of two women inside the complex.
“Since the morning, the enemy has been trying to assault the Azovstal plant with significant forces using armored vehicles. Our soldiers bravely repel all attacks,” Shlega said.
Sviatoslav Palamar, an Azov Regiment commander also inside the complex, told CNN on Tuesday that Azovstal “is now being assaulted.”
The field hospital had been badly damaged and “the doctors who perform operations are in very difficult conditions and do everything possible and impossible. Currently, there are about 500 wounded at the plant,” Shlega added.
About 200 civilians are still at the plant, including about 20 children, Shlega said.
Russian state media RIA Novosti reported Tuesday that Ukrainian fighters “took advantage of the ceasefire at Azovstal and assumed firing positions.” The outlet cited the Russian defense ministry spokesperson Vadim Astafiev. RIA Novosti reported that Russian troops continue to the attack those firing positions.
“They have left the bunkers and assumed defensive positions on the territory of the plant. Currently, the DPR troops and the Russian armed forces are starting to destroy those positions with artillery and aviation,” Astafiev said.
On Sunday, about 100 civilians were able to leave the plant in an evacuation organized by the United Nations and International Red Cross, but there have been no evacuations since then.