Convoy of 160 cars leaves besieged Mariupol as ceasefire allows first humanitarian corridor out

Beneath the smoke and the shelling of Mariupol, hundreds of thousands of people are still stuck in the seaside city, reports ITV News Europe Editor James Mates from Kyiv

Civilians have been evacuated from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Monday in what appeared to the first successful attempt at a humanitarian corridor out of the city since the Russians surrounded it two weeks ago.

After several days of failed attempts to deliver supplies to Mariupol and provide safe passage out for trapped civilians, the city council said a local ceasefire was holding and a convoy of more than 160 cars had left the city.

A dashcam captured the attack on Kyiv on Monday (Twitter/MariaLeb79)

Civilians have been trapped in the city for more than two weeks, and authorities had warned of a worsening humanitarian catastrophe in the port city cut off from deliveries of food and medicine, and without power in sub-zero temperatures.

"It is known that as of 1300 (1100 GMT) more than 160 private cars managed to leave," the city council said in an online statement.

It said the convoy had reached the nearby city of Berdyansk and was heading on towards Zaporizhzhia.

James Mates provides the latest update on the war in Ukraine, 19 days after Russia launched its invasion:

"There is also confirmation that a ceasefire is currently holding along the humanitarian corridor that has been established," it said.

The convoy's progress has not been verified.

Previous attempts at humanitarian convoys out of the besieged city have been repeatedly blocked. Amid reports of indiscriminate attacks, Ukrainian authorities have accused Russian forces of shelling evacuation routes and preventing civilians from escaping the city of 430,000 people.

Drone footage captured shelling in the besieged city of Mariupol

The convoy out of the city offered a rare glimmer of hope and came as talks between Russia and Ukraine resumed, with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy's, adviser saying communication is hard but ongoing.

The latest negotiations, which were held via video conference, were the fourth round involving higher-level officials from the two countries and the first in a week. The talks ended without a breakthrough after several hours, with an aide to Mr Zelenskyy saying the negotiators took “a technical pause” and planned to meet again on Tuesday.

Mariupol officials said on Friday that 1,582 people had been killed overall since the siege began. The city has a peacetime population of about 430,000. The Ukrainian government said that a mosque sheltering more than 80 people in the besieged city had been bombed by the Russian military.

Mariupol's deputy mayor Sergei Orlov says he has 'no words' to describe what it's like to live in the besieged city

A pregnant woman and her baby were killed after Russia bombed the maternity hospital where she was meant to give birth.

Images of the woman being rushed to an ambulance on a stretcher from the destroyed Mariupol medical centre had circled the world, epitomising the horror of an attack on humanity’s most innocent.

Women and children sit on the floor of a corridor in a hospital in Mariupol. Credit: AP

Ahead of the talks, other Ukrainian cities also suffered losses as the Russians move towards the capital, Kyiv. One person died and three were hospitalised after a Russian shell destroyed a nine-storey residential block in Kyiv overnight, officials have said as negotiations resumed between Russia and Ukraine.

Away from Kyiv, strikes occurred overnight on the northwest towns of Irpin and Bucha and Hostomel. The areas have seen some of the worst fighting in Russia’s stalled attempt to take the capital.

A town councillor for Brovary, east of Kyiv, was killed in fighting there, officials said.

On Monday morning, the UK Ministry of Defence provided an update after Ukrainian authorities accused Russia of kidnapping mayors from under-attack cities in the country.

The MoD said Russia has reportedly installed its own mayor in the city of Melitpol, following the alleged abduction of his predecessor on Friday.

It also said it had been reported Russian forces have fired warning shots at protesters as demonstrations broke out in occupied areas of Ukraine.

The two sides had expressed some optimism in the past few days. Mykhailo Podolyak, an aide to Mr Zelenskyy, said over the weekend that Russia was “listening carefully to our proposals.” He tweeted on Monday that the negotiators would discuss “peace, ceasefire, immediate withdrawal of troops & security guarantees".

Previous discussions, held in person in Belarus, produced no lasting humanitarian routes or agreements to end the fighting.

Robert Mardini, director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said the war has become “nothing short of a nightmare" for those living in besieged cities, and he pleaded for safe passage for civilians to leave and humanitarian aid to be brought in through the front lines.

"The situation cannot, cannot continue like this,” he said. “History is watching what is happening in Mariupol and other cities."

The UN has recorded at least 596 civilian deaths since Russia invaded Ukraine though it believes the true toll is much higher. Millions more have fled their homes, with more than 2.8 million crossing into Poland and other neighbouring countries in what the UN has called Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since the second world war.

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