Sisters fled Mariupol, lost contact with mother

STORY: This is footage from inside the besieged city of Mariupol near the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

It's something of a video diary shared with Reuters by two sisters who managed to escape.

Their videos show them dash the streets amid the sounds of shelling... the debris inside their house.

Nighttime bombings set their neighbors' home ablaze.

A radio broadcast informs residents they were under control of the Russian-backed separatist region called the Donetsk People's Republic.

These videos, their suitcases, and a handful of family photos, are what the sisters took with them to the relative safety of Kyiv.

28-year-old Vira and 21-year-old Nicole asked Reuters not print their last names, out of fear that their family back in Mariupol might face retaliation.

On this idyllic park bench in the Ukrainian capital, the sisters can watch Vira's four-year-old son, Kyrylo at play.

But their thoughts are with their family who stayed behind.

NICOLE: "I really want for them to get out, not the way we did though. We got out by a miracle, on the verge of life and death. They wouldn’t have been able to get through the whole city with us like that. With just a hope to survive, to become free, to come back to peace, and for this to even leave our relatives. Right now there is a chance to evacuate, and we hope that at one point they will pick up their bags, emergency suitcases and go there. And get out in some way, and meet us."

They left a handwritten goodbye to their mother, unsure of when they might see her again.

Mariupol has been an important target in Russia's efforts to cut Ukraine off from its Black Sea ports.

Russian forces are heavily bombarding the Azovstal steel plant, which stands as the last holdout of resistance in the city.

The United Nations and Red Cross evacuated hundreds of people from the city and other areas earlier this week, including dozens from Azovstal during a short-lived U.N. brokered ceasefire.

Nicole said she has urged her family to try and leave the city, but fears they don't have access to information.

"When we got in touch on the phone, I told them please get out of there, we got out, and told them it isn't true what you're being told. Living under an information blockade is really tough, because they don't have a radio, no access to information."

In mid-April, the two received a phone call from an unknown number which turned out to be their mother. They spoke to their mother once more, but the calls have now stopped.

"Now, when people ask me, how do you imagine the first day of victory, or how do you imagine your relatives, I can't find the right words and I immediately want to cry, because it would be the greatest joy for me to have my relatives by my side right now."

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