Ukraine’s officials at the city of Mariupol said on Friday that around 300 people were killed at the bombing of a theatre last week.
Petr Andryuschenko, advisor to the deputy mayor of Mariupol, in an interview with Newshour on the BBC World Service, said nearly 600 people were sheltering inside the theatre before the attack. Three hundred were in a shelter under the theatre.
The bombing of Mariupol theater was a “horrendous war crime”
The Mariupol council posted an image of the city’s theater, showing it had sustained heavy damage in the attack on March 16. Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba called the assault “another horrendous war crime,” which targeted “hundreds of innocent civilians” in hiding.
The Russian defense ministry has denied attacking the theatre.
The authorities had not been able to start the rescue operation because there was street fighting near the theatre, and the Russians were continuing to shell the area.
Andryuschenko told the BBC he is confident about the figures because they had a record of who was in the theatre before the missile strike, they’ve spoken to survivors, and they have checked how many survived.
He also confirmed that there is fighting in the middle of the city, but insisted that the Russians had not yet managed to take control.
Mariupol a destroyed city
Greek diplomat Manolis Androulakis, who was the last remaining Western diplomat left in the city of Mariupol stated just after arriving in Athens that “Mariupol will be added to the lists of international cities that have been destroyed, such as Guernica, Stalingrad, and Grozny.”
The Greek diplomat’s eyewitness account points to war crimes committed by the Russian armed forces.
“Civilians were victims of indiscriminate bombing,” he says. “What was the strategic thinking behind shelling a city to ruins?” he asked.
“The Ukrainians opened a humanitarian corridor for people to flee the city but it was hit by the Russians,” the Greek diplomat said.
“I cannot see how anyone can return to this city. It would take at least a generation to rebuild it,” he lamented.