March 16, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Helen Regan, Adam Renton, George Ramsay, Ed Upright and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, March 17, 2022
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8:46 p.m. ET, March 15, 2022

Survivors and drone footage reveal the scale of destruction in Ukraine's Mariupol

From CNN's Olga Voitovich, Ivana Kottasová, Jack Guy and Paul P. Murphy

Conditions in Mariupol are "unbearable" and "just hell," residents who fled the besieged city in southeastern Ukraine have told CNN, as shocking drone footage and satellite photos emerged showing the utter devastation wrought by the Russian bombardment.

Mariupol city council said on Tuesday that an estimated 2,000 private cars have been able to leave the city, and a further 2,000 vehicles are parked on the main route out of Mariupol as of 2 p.m. local time Tuesday.

The departures took place despite the ongoing failure to formally establish safe corridors to evacuate civilians from Mariupol, which has been besieged since March 1.

As many as 2,500 civilians have died in Mariupol, Ukrainian officials estimate. About 350,000 people are trapped in the city, with officials warning those who remain are without electricity, water and heat.

Two women who managed to escape to the Zaporizhzhia region, about 140 miles (225 kilometers) away, on Monday told CNN about conditions in Mariupol and the frightening journey out.

Lidiia, who did not give her surname due to safety concerns, told CNN that she decided to leave Mariupol after Russian bombardments started hitting closer to her home.

"We left the city under shelling — there is no silence in Mariupol," the 34-year-old said. "Today we talked to our neighbors, they said that the situation now is even worse, so no one knows whether people will be able to leave Mariupol today."

She said she had spent two weeks in a basement with about 60 other people, adding she only left occasionally to retrieve items from her apartment.

Describing the journey out of the city, Lidiia said: "We stopped several times and hid the children because the airplane was flying very low directly above us. We were afraid that we would come under fire. But it was no longer possible to stay in the city. Mariupol is now just hell."

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