Russia is turning Ukraine's Avdiivka into "a place from post-apocalyptic movies," intensifying shelling and forcing a nearly full shutdown of the frontline city, the top local official said on Sunday.
Some 2,000 civilians are left in Avdiivka, a Donetsk region city some 90 kilometers (56 miles) southwest of the besieged Bakhmut, according to officials. The city had a pre-war population of more than 30,000.
"I am sad to say this, but Avdiivka is becoming more and more like a place from post-apocalyptic movies," the city's military administration head Vitaliy Barabash said on the Telegram messaging app.
Avdiivka is being prepared for Russian forces
The evacuation of the utility workers that were still left in the city has begun and mobile reception will be turned off soon, "because there are informers of the Russian occupiers in the city," Barabash added.
With Russian forces making recent gradual gains on the flanks of Avdiivka, the Ukrainian military warned last week that the city could become a "second Bakhmut" - where months-long fierce fighting has turned the town into rubble.
On Sunday, Russian shelling targeted two high-rise buildings in Avdiivka, which is just 10 km from the northern outskirts of the city of Donetsk, which has been under Moscow's control since 2014.
One person was injured in numerous air strikes on Avdiivka on Saturday, according to Ukrainian military.
"You have to go, you have to pack your things, especially with your children," Barabash said.
Russia has denied targeting civilians in the now 13-month war it has waged against its neighbor. The war, which has no end in sight, has seen thousands killed, millions displaced and tens of Ukrainian cities nearly or partially wiped out.