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Mariupol steel plant endures Russian attacks as mayor issues plea to rebuild

Mariupol steel plant endures Russian attacks as mayor issues plea to rebuild
Officials say hundreds of civilians are taking shelter at the Azovstal steel plant, pictured in October, in Mariupol, Donetsk region, Ukraine, as Russian forces attack. File Photo by Oleg Petrasyuk/EPA-EFE

April 27 (UPI) -- The mayor of Mariupol on Wednesday called for European allies to help rebuild the southern Ukrainian city even as Russia carried out more attacks on a steel plant where hundreds have taken shelter.

In a video call with the European Committee of the Regions and fellow Ukrainian leaders, Mayor Vadym Boychenko said officials believe 20,000 people have been killed in Mariupol, a city of 430,000. He said it's difficult to have an accurate accounting of casualties, though, because continued Russian shelling has made it too dangerous to recover many of the dead, The New York Times reported.

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Boychenko was confident that Ukraine would ultimately defeat Russian, which has largely taken control of Mariupol, which is situated along the north coast of the Sea of Azov and near the Russian border. On Wednesday, he looked ahead to the rebuilding process.

"Ukraine will win and we will start a huge process of rebuilding. And I am sure now and after our victory the support of European countries will be key to us," he said. "We should build the new strategy of rebuilding Mariupol."

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Though most of Mariupol is under the control of Russia, Ukrainian fighters have holed up in the Azovstal steel plant with hundreds of civilians. Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to Boychenko, said Wednesday that up to 1,000 civilians were in the plant, while The New York Times cited a local officials who put the figure closer to 2,000.

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Andryushchenko said Russian forces were storming the plant "again and again."

"Air attacks on Azovstal do not subside. No silence, but attempts to storm again and again," he wrote on Telegram.

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"At the same time, street fights continue again in the sector from the Azovstal plant management to the street," he wrote, according to Fox News.

A Telegram account belonging to the city's city council shared images from inside the plant Tuesday, showing the injured receiving treatment in "unsanitary" conditions.

"This is what the hospital in one of Azovstal's shelters looks like. Scary photos. But the world needs to know what's going on," the post read.

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Priest Andrii Gavalin presides over the funeral of Eugene Bogdanov, 35, in Bucha, Ukraine, on May 10. Bogdanov went missing two months ago. His wife, Natalia Bogdanova, was searching for him throughout the Kyiv and Bucha regions when his body was found at a morgue in Belaya Tserkov on May 9. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

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