Sharjah24 - AFP: The 79 evacuees emerged exhausted and dirty from three yellow school buses into a supermarket carpark in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia.
The small convoy Thursday was all those who managed to get out of the shattered port city of Mariupol that has been devastated by Russia's onslaught.
The passengers, mostly women, recounted their escape and the hell they had left behind after almost two months trapped under siege by Moscow's forces.
"This evacuation was a show," said a 19-year-old who asked to use the pseudonym Anastasia.
She told AFP that Russian camera crews had massed to film their departure as part of Moscow's state-backed propaganda campaign.
"We were given some care, but it was just for the media," she said.
Rumours of a potential escape route out of Mariupol had spread Wednesday after Ukrainian authorities for days unsuccessfully negotiated a safe passage with the Russian forces.
"Many people living in the Russian-occupied territories want to leave, but they are prevented from doing so," said Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, who was present to meet the arrival in Zaporizhzhia.
In the end, only three buses were allowed through out of dozens that Ukraine had hoped to get out of the city.