'Hell is what's happening there': Escapees on life in besieged Mariupol

Tears and tales of horror as escapees from Mariupol arrive in Zaporizhzhia
Tears and tales of horror as escapees from Mariupol arrive in Zaporizhzhia Copyright Credit: AFP
By James Thomas
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"Hell is what's happening there [Mariupol], it's not possible to just retell it."

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Expressions of relief juxtaposed with tales of horror as a bus carrying 80 people fleeing Mariupol arrived in Zaporizhzhia.

There were hugs as relatives greeted escapees from the besieged city. 

Elsewhere stories of suffering quickly emerged.

"Hell is what's happening there (Mariupol), it's not possible to just retell it," one man said. "Russians are killing people for nothing. If the world doesn't take measures, Zaporizhzhia will be the same. Mariupol [is] totally destroyed, graves and crosses in the yards."

"We were leaving yesterday," said another man, wiping tears away from his face as he composed himself. "There was a hole left instead of a nine-floor building."

"It was terrible," said one woman.

The bus set off from Mariupol on Wednesday and travelled for over 24 hours to bring its passengers to safety.

Much of the port city has been destroyed following almost two months of attacks by Russian forces, and while both sides agreed to set up humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to leave, Ukraine claims that continued Russian shelling is preventing them from doing so.

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