Earlier tonight news.ru broke the story that DPR fighters had blocked the tunnel through which the APU was going in and out of the Azovstal plant. The report says:
Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the Vostok (East) battalion of the People’s Militia of the DPR, announced the blocking of a tunnel at the Azovstal plant. His Telegram channel stated that thanks to this tunnel AFU fighters had access to the river.
Khodakovsky also made an assessment of the physical condition of the enemy, noting the fatigue of Ukrainian soldiers. According to the commander, the military blocked at the plant “are asking for freedom.”
They found a tunnel through which the enemy gets out of Azovstal. The tunnel is at least three meters high, wide enough to move freely, then exit to the river, from which, judging by the trampled paths, the enemy is getting its water. “Today the tunnel was blocked,” Khodakovsky said.
Earlier, Khodakovsky said that a group of Ukrainian military withdrew from the territory of Azovstal in Mariupol. This event was the first contact with the AFU fighters during the blocking of Mariupol and the metallurgical plant.
On May 7, the DPR defence headquarters reported that 50 civilians were evacuated from the territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant in Mariupol. According to the ministry, the number of civilians who left the plant totalled 176 people. In addition, 51 people, including 11 children, were removed from the territory of the plant along the humanitarian corridor.”
It may be that this tunnel was known about before but because there were still civilians held at the plant no action was taken. Yesterday it was confirmed by both sides that there were no longer any civilians in the complex. However it is urgent now that the wounded get attention or they will die. Ukraine has just offered to exchange the severely wounded for captured Russian servicemen. It is unlikely that Russia, which has been trying to exchange captured Ukrainian servicemen for weeks, will accept this offer.