Terrified civilians including the elderly and children are being evacuated from a town near Kyiv amid relentless bombing and shelling on the tenth day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Special correspondent Alex Crawford has been speaking with refugees at a town in the city of Irpin – located around five miles from the Ukrainian capital.
Elderly residents and young children were among those being evacuated from a frontline area after coming under intense shelling and bombardment from Vladimir Putin‘s forces.
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Reporting from the outskirts of Irpin, Crawford said the civilians were “clearly very traumatised” as grey smoke billows into the sky behind her amid the harrowing sound of bombing.
“We’ve heard a lot of outgoing artillery because they are trying to stop the advancing troops and we’re not sure exactly what’s going on in there,” she said on the outskirts of Irpin.
Crawford said large numbers of civilians have been ferried out this morning and a lot of explosions can be heard – believed to be part of the Russian advance as troops close in on Kyiv.
She said: “We know that there are a substantial number of civilians still trapped in that town who are trying to get out.”
The Sky News team has seen a large number of civilians leaving, while some have been ferried out and ambulances have also been seen carrying the wounded.
Intense shelling in Irpin and nearby Bucha
There is a large Ukrainian military presence in Irpin, as well as Bucha – another northeastern city near Kyiv that is being shelled by Russian forces.
It is believed that those under attack in Bucha have to travel through Irpin to get to safety.
Crawford said: “There’s a large number of Ukrainian soldiers that we’ve seen, some who came out who said they come from Bucha where there is also shelling.”
She added she had spoken to a number of Ukrainian soldiers and politicians today, who are urgently demanding more international participation in this in the way of a no-fly zone because they believe that is the only way to stop Russian troops from advancing.
On Saturday, Russian forces took control of a psychiatric hospital in Borodyanka, a small town northwest of Kyiv.
The governor of the Kyiv region said authorities had been unable to evacuate the 670 people inside the facility.
It comes after Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to the international community and NATO to impose a no-fly zone on television this morning.
Many civilians escaping Irpin and Bucha have been demanding a humanitarian corridor.
It comes after safe “green” routes were negotiated on Saturday from the strategic port of Mariupol in the southeast of the country and the eastern town of Volnovakha, enabling children, women and the elderly to leave.
“Where all that noise is coming from, where all that military sound that you’re hearing, there are civilians there at the end of that – terrified civilians,” Crawford said.
1.3 million people flee Ukraine
The United Nations has confirmed that more than 1.3 million Ukrainian refugees have fled their home country since the conflict with Russia began.
These are largely women and children, as men of fighting age – those aged between 18 and 60 – have been urged to stay behind by President Zelenskyy and defend Ukraine.
The UN says this has quickly become the “biggest refugee crisis this century”, predicting that as many as four million people could leave.