- Many women and children take refuge in the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol amid Russian attacks.
- Children are losing teeth and hair due to the stress of their circumstances, The Times of London said.
- Russian forces carried out further airstrikes on the Azovstal plant this week.
Some children hidden in the Mariupol steelworks are losing their hair and teeth from stress after watching their parents killed, The Times of London reported on Thursday.
Russia said last week it had “liberated” the Ukrainian port city with the exception of the Azovstal steelworks, which serves as a final detention for thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians.
Ukrainian officials said the civilians hiding in the steelworks’ vast network of underground tunnels are mostly women and children.
A woman identified only as Viktoria told The Times she was in communication with her 36-year-old brother, a National Guard soldier who has taken refuge in Azovstal since the start of the war. She did not want to name him for security reasons.
“There are a lot of civilians,” she told The Times. “I think a lot of them are Azovstal staff. Also, there are a lot of those whose houses were destroyed. A lot of old people and children.”
The woman told The Times that, according to her brother, many of the children housed in Azovstal have gray hair and have started stuttering due to the stress of seeing their parents killed.
“Some are losing their hair and teeth,” she added.
Insider could not independently verify Viktoria’s claims. It is also not known how many children are affected, or where and when exactly their parents died.
Earlier this week, Russian forces began carrying out new airstrikes on the Azovstal plant and even attempted to storm it, Ukrainian officials said.
On Thursday, Ukrainian forces at the factory said on Telegram that Russian troops had shelled a field hospital located at the factory. It is not known how many people died in the attack.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office said on Friday that Ukrainian forces planned to remove civilians from the steelworks. He did not give further details on the specifics of the operation.
The UN said on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had agreed “in principle” to an attempted evacuation of Azovstal.