Hundreds of people are fleeing the city of Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine every day, with evacuation numbers almost doubling this week, said the head of the city's military administration, Vadym Lyakh, on Saturday.
“The number of people leaving (the city) has almost doubled, both by evacuation buses and their own vehicles, people are actively leaving,” Lyakh said. He said a missile strike that killed three people in the city on Tuesday had “pushed the citizens to leave.”
There are currently around 22,000 people left in Sloviansk, around a fifth of the pre-war population of approximately 110,000, according to Lyakh.
Around 70 to 100 people are evacuating to the city of Dnipro every day, and 100 to 200 people are leaving for other parts of Ukraine on a daily basis, Lyakh said. The flow of traffic leaving the city is “increasing," he added.
The increased demand means they are adding more evacuation buses, which people can sign up for in advance, Lyakh said. Evacuees are provided with free food and accommodation by local volunteers.
So far, the evacuations have been carried out safely, with “no cases of shelling or any complications,” he said.
Some background: The Ukrainian military has said that Russian units are being bolstered on the approaches to Sloviansk as they gear up for renewed assaults toward the city.
Neighboring Kramatorsk is the largest urban area in Donetsk still under Ukrainian control.
The general staff of Ukraine's military said Friday that Russia is concentrating a force of up to 20 battalion tactical groups in the area. The Russians had tried to launch an attack on two towns north and northwest of Sloviansk — Barvinkove and Sviatohirsk — but had been unsuccessful.
It's unclear whether the Russians have taken further territory to the east of Sloviansk after winning control of the town of Lyman late last month. The Ukrainian side says Russian forces have used artillery in two areas closer to Sloviansk — Shchurove and Brusivka.
CNN's Tim Lister contributed reporting to this post.