Donetsk, Mar 22 - DAN. Six hundred and nineteen people have been evacuated from Mariupol to the Donetsk People’s Republic territory over the past 24 hours, the DPR Territorial Defense Headquarters reported on Tuesday.

“The DPR evacuated 619 people including 134 children from Mariupol to Bezymennoye in the DPR’s Novoazovsky district from 08:00, March 21 through 08:00, March 22,” the report said.

They are currently staying in Bezymennoye’s aid centre set up by the Republic’s Emergencies Ministry. More than 4,000 evacuees have arrived from Mariupol to Bezymennoye since March 5.

Founded in 1778, Mariupol is the largest city on the Sea of Azov coast. It is a key metallurgical center in Donbass and a large sea port. During “Russian Spring” protests against Ukrainian authorities, Ukrainian gunmen fired at a peaceful rally in Mariupol on May 9, 2014 killing civilians. Mariupol residents overwhelmingly voted for the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic at the referendum on May 11, 2014. The town came under Kiev control on June 13 and has been in occupation since.

On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the beginning of the operation aimed at denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine. On the same day, the DPR and LPR forces launched a liberation movement in in the Donbass region. Clashes for Mariupol began on February 24; the city was fully blocked in the course of the fighting. At present, Russian and DPR forces continue mopping up in Mariupol. They organised humanitarian corridors for simultaneous evacuation of cilviians. *jk