A convoy of 11 empty buses — driving towards Mariupol to rescue fleeing Ukrainians — has been commandeered by Russian forces, according to the Ukrainian government.
The Russians have driven the buses, along with the original bus drivers and several emergency services workers, to an undisclosed location the government says.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said the buses were taken over at a Russian checkpoint outside Mangush, about 15 kilometers (about 9 miles) west of Mariupol.
Mariupol has been under devastating bombardment for several weeks and 100,000 people in the city are without water and access to medicines, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Tuesday. A local Ukrainian officer in the city told CNN that bombs have been falling on the city every ten minutes.
Recent days have seen several thousand people make the dangerous journey out of the city in private vehicles, en route to Zaporizhzhia, a city more than 200 kilometers (about 124 miles) away which is still in Ukrainian hands.
However, attempts to get empty buses into besieged Mariupol to collect people and bring them out have so far failed.