A Red Cross convoy travelling to the Ukrainian city of Mariupol will try again to evacuate civilians from the besieged port on Saturday as Russian forces looked to be regrouping for new attacks in the southeast.
Mariupol, encircled since the early days of Russia's five-week-old invasion, has been Moscow's main target in Ukraine's southeastern region of Donbas. Tens of thousands there are trapped with scant access to food and water, reports Reuters.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) sent a team on Friday to lead a convoy of about 54 Ukrainian buses and other private vehicles out of the city, but they turned back, saying conditions made it impossible to proceed.
"They will try again on Saturday to facilitate the safe passage of civilians," the ICRC said in a statement. A previous Red Cross evacuation attempt in early March failed because the route was found to be unsafe.
Russia and Ukraine have agreed to humanitarian corridors during the war that have facilitated the evacuation of thousands of civilians.
The ICRC says its Mariupol operation has been approved by both sides, but major details were still being worked, out such as the exact timing and destination of the convoy, which would be an undetermined location in Ukraine.
In an early morning video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russian troops had moved toward the Donbas region and northeast in the direction of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, where previous Russian strikes badly damaged urban areas.
"I hope there may still be solutions for the situation in Mariupol," Zelensky said. "The whole world has to react to this humanitarian catastrophe."