KYIV - Russia intensifies its attacks on key Ukrainian cities  with fighting raging for a seventh day in the north, east and south, BBC reported on Wednesday

Hundreds of people are feared dead in the southern port of Mariupol following hours of sustained shelling, city’s deputy mayor says.

Also in the south, Russia has been battling for control of Kherson but its Mayor says the city is still held by Ukrainian forces.

There have been reports of more rocket fire and air strikes in the north-eastern city of Kharkiv, where Russian paratroops landed overnight.

The United Nations says more than 800,000 people have now fled Ukraine.

Nearly 836,000

refugees have fled Ukraine conflict: UN

The number of refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine has surged to nearly 836,000, United Nations figures showed Wednesday, as fighting intensified on day seven of Russia’s invasion.

In all, 835,928 people have fled across the country’s borders, according to the website of UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. That marks a huge jump from the 677,000 announced Tuesday afternoon by the organisation’s chief Filippo Grandi. More than half have headed west into Poland, according to tallies completed up to Tuesday.

UNHCR figures show that 454,000 people had fled to Poland; 116,000 to Hungary; 67,000 to Slovakia; 65,000 to Moldova, 43,000 to Russia, 38,000 to Romania and 350 to Belarus.

Meanwhile, 52,000 have moved on to other European countries.

An additional 96,000 people had crossed into Russia from the separatist Donetsk and Luhansk regions between February 18 and 23, UNHCR noted.

Russian forces said they had captured the Ukrainian port of Kherson on Wednesday, as Russian and Ukrainian troops battled in the streets of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and President Volodymyr Zelensky said Moscow wanted to “erase” his country.

“The military offensive in Ukraine has caused destruction of civilian infrastructure and civilian casualties and has driven many thousands of people from their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance,” UNHCR said.

“There is a clear indication that many more people are on the move. They are in need of protection and support.”

UNHCR projects that more than four million Ukrainian refugees may eventually need protection and assistance in neighbouring countries.

Hundreds of people are feared dead in southern port of Mariupol following hours of sustained shelling