Ukraine seeks to evacuate eastern region of Donetsk before winter bites

KYIV, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Ukraine aims to evacuate two thirds of residents from areas it controls in the eastern battleground region of Donetsk before winter, partly out of concern people won't be able to stay warm amid war-damaged infrastructure, the deputy prime minister said on Thursday.

The government plans to evacuate some 220,000 people out of around 350,000, including 52,000 children, Iryna Vereshchuk told a news conference.

Late last month Ukraine announced the mandatory evacuation of people from Donetsk region, which has been the scene of fierce fighting with Russia, to save civilian lives.

Although the authorities describe the evacuation as "mandatory", residents can opt out by filling in a form declaring their intention to stay.

Since Aug. 1, 3,904 people had been evacuated, Vereshchuk said.

She said thousands should leave before winter comes because the fighting has destroyed power and heating infrastructure.

She added that evacuation might have to expand to other war-hit areas, such as Kherson, Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia regions.

Donetsk is part of the eastern region of Donbas, which Russia has said it aims to control completely. (Reporting by Max Hunder Editing by Frances Kerry)