The Russian military has bombed a theater in the city of Mariupol where hundreds of civilians were being sheltered, local officials said on Wednesday.
The Mariupol City Council alleged that hundreds of civilians were sheltering in the Mariupol Drama Theater. Mariupol deputy mayor Serhiy Orlov told the BBC that 1,000-1,200 civilians were sheltering in the building when it was struck but the number of casualties remains unclear. Reports of the alleged attack have not yet been independently verified.
Purported footage of the aftermath of the bombing showed the building reduced to rubble:
NEW: Russia has bombed the drama theater in Ukraine’s besieged city of Mariupol where 100s of civilians were seeking shelter from Russian attacks.
Here’s a photo of the aftermath from Mariupol Now. More than 2,500 civilians have been killed in Mariupol since Russia invaded pic.twitter.com/1wKGEs6z4n
— Jack Detsch (@JackDetsch) March 16, 2022
The alleged strike comes amid Russia’s siege of the city, which has left residents without electricity, running water, and other basic necessities. While local officials have recorded over 2,500 deaths in the city, the actual number is likely higher.
Officials have told families to leave dead relatives in the street because it is too dangerous to hold funerals amid nonstop shelling, while some corpses have been buried in mass graves documented by the Associated Press. The only international media currently present in the city are two AP reporters.
“Our defenders will defend to the last bullet,” Orlov, the deputy mayor, told the AP prior to the alleged Russian strike on the Drama Theater. “But people are dying without water and food, and I think in the next several days we will count hundreds and thousands of deaths.”
Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in late February, in what Russian president Vladimir Putin said was an attempt to “denazify” the country. Russia has denied intentionally targeting civilians in the war.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to the U.S. Congress on Wednesday for more military aid as well as a no-fly zone over Ukraine, although enforcing a no-fly zone would likely draw the U.S. and NATO allies more deeply into the conflict and is therefore opposed by the Biden administration. President Biden announced an $800 billion aid package to Ukraine on Wednesday afternoon, including drones, anti-tank missiles, and anti-aircraft missiles.
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