Ukraine hopes a column of evacuees from the ruins of a vast steel works in the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol will reach the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia later on Tuesday.

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said more than 200 civilians were still in the Azovstal steel plant where the city's last defenders are holed up. A total of about 100,000 civilians remained in the port city on the Sea of Azov, he said.

"The column (of evacuees) is moving towards Zaporizhzhia. The evacuation continues," Boichenko said on national television. "We are limiting information and hope that the evacuees from Azovstal will reach Ukraine."

The United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross began an operation coordinated with Ukraine and Russia on April 29 to bring out women, children and the elderly from the steel works.

The sprawling industrial complex became a refuge for both civilians and Ukrainian fighters as Moscow laid siege to Mariupol, devastating the city in weeks of bombardment.


(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Editing by Timothy Heritage)