Mar 25, 2022 - World

Mariupol city government says 300 people killed in theater strike

Satellite photos of the Mariupol Drama Theater from March 14 and March 19 before and after it was struck by a Russian airstrike.
Satellite photos of the Mariupol Drama Theater from March 14 and March 19 before and after it was struck by a Russian airstrike. Photos: Maxar Technologies.

At least 300 people were killed by a Russian airstrike on a theater in Mariupol last week, the city’s government said Friday in a social media post, citing eyewitnesses.

The big picture: City officials said over 1,000 people, including children, were inside shelters below the Donetsk Regional Drama Theatre at the time of the strike on March 16.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week that hundreds of people were still trapped underneath the destroyed theater, while the country's top human rights official said at least 130 people had been rescued from the destroyed building.
  • It was unclear if emergency workers finished evacuating the site or how the eyewitnesses cited by the city council arrived at the death toll.

What they're saying: "The occupier knew where he was hitting," the Mariupol City Council said.

  • "There cannot be and never will be an explanation for this inhuman cruelty. As there will never be forgiveness for those who brought devastation, pain and suffering to our home," it added.
  • "We can restore buildings, but we will never get friends, neighbors, relatives and loved ones back. Blessed memory of all the innocent victims of the insane war waged against Ukraine by the aggressor country, the terrorist country Russia."

Satellite images of the theater captured by Maxar Technologies show that the word "children" had been written in Russian in large white letters in front of and behind the theater.

  • The theater also has a distinct red roof and is positioned relatively far away from other buildings in a park.

Russian forces have been besieging the port city of Mariupol — which was once home to around 430,000 people — since Feb. 24, relentlessly bombing civilian targets there, including an art school, a mosque and a children's hospital.

  • Currently, at least 100,000 people are trapped in the city without food, water and medicine, according to Zelensky. More than 1,500 people have been killed during the siege, according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

Go deeper ... UNICEF: Over half of Ukraine's children displaced since Russian invasion began

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