Russian forces have captured a hospital in the besieged city of Mariupol and are holding some 400 civilians hostage, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said on Wednesday.
Medical personnel are among the hostages at the hospital, which was seized by Russian troops on Tuesday, according to Iryna Vereshchuk.
She said Russian forces have been firing from the hospital, threatening civilians trying to escape from the city.
At least 2,000 civilian vehicles had left Mariupol using “unofficial” evacuation routes as of Tuesday, a source in the Mariupol City Council told Anadolu Agency.
On Monday, Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the Ukrainian presidency, said more than 2,500 civilians have been killed in Russian attacks on Mariupol.
However, according to UN estimates, at least 691 civilians have been killed and 1,143 injured throughout Ukraine since Russia declared war on its western neighbor on Feb. 24.
The UN, though, has said that the true figure is likely much higher.
More than 3 million refugees have fled the country and some 6.7 million people have been internally displaced, UN agencies said.