Ukraine Ticker. Kyiv reports heavy rocket attacks in Lviv +++ Battle for Mariupol steelworks.

According to local authorities, there are numerous civilians and Ukrainian troops on the contested site of the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol. The people there were hiding from shelling during the week-long siege of the city by the Russian military, said the head of Mariupol’s patrol police, Mikhail Werschinin, on Monday night on local television.

‘They don’t trust the Russians. They see what’s going on in the city and that’s why they stay on the factory premises,” he said. The information could not be independently verified. Several thousand Ukrainian defenders of the city are said to have holed up in the huge steelworks, which also includes underground facilities. Large parts of Mariupol are now under the control of the Russian military.

Around 100,000 residents were still in Mariupol, Vershinin said. Russian troops had them clear rubble for food, and had bodies removed and buried in mass graves, he claimed. Before the war, Mariupol had around 400,000 inhabitants. Thousands of civilian deaths are feared after the long siege and constant shelling.

The port city on the Azov Sea in south-eastern Ukraine is of strategic importance. It lies on the route between Russia’s annexed Crimea and pro-Russian separatist-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine.

The embattled Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol offers a picture of horror. According to the local police chief, there are still numerous civilians on the site along with Ukrainian troops because they sought protection here. (AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov)

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