Around 130 of the more than 1,000 people who were sheltering in a theater in the strategic city of Mariupol when it was struck by Russian forces on Wednesday have been pulled out of the rubble alive, Ukrainian officials say.
But even as news of such miraculous survival continues to demonstrate the strength of the Ukrainian population, horror stories overshadow hope. Reports from the port city that stray dogs that normally feed off garbage and other scraps are now grazing on human corpses left in the streets speaks to the reality of a city under constant bombardment.
No one knows for sure just how many people in Mariupol have been killed so far, and because many bodies are being rolled into mass graves, the true death toll will likely never be tallied.
Meanwhile, Russia launched at least six missiles toward the previously relatively safe haven city of Lviv, near the Polish border early Friday morning. Ukrainian armed forces said in a Facebook post that the cruise missiles were deployed from warplanes over the Black Sea and mark the first time the city has come under such a direct attack. Two of the missiles were intercepted by air defense systems supplied by the West.
The other missiles destroyed an aircraft repair plant near the Danylo Halytskyi International airport west of the city, where millions of displaced Ukrainians have sought relative safety. No casualties were reported, but multiple Western news agencies that are broadcasting from the city reported hearing bombs and air raid sirens around 6:30 a.m.
It is yet unclear if that will set off another exodus of refugees toward Poland some 50 miles away. “Missiles hit the area near Lviv airport. I cannot say the location at this time, but it is definitely not an airport,” Mayor Andriy Sadovyi posted on Facebook on Friday morning. “The windows in the buildings of [a] motor transport company are damaged. The situation on the ground is being clarified and we will update later.”
Still, Ukraine continues to fight for its freedom. A U.K. military expert told BBC 4 Today that Russia is being “humiliated” on the battlefield at every turn. “The Russians are making almost every tactical mistake it is possible to make,” the former director of the Royal United Services Institute Michael Clarke said Friday. “They [Russian troops] look like forces that were completely unprepared, that hadn’t thought through what a major campaign might look like. The Ukrainians are stalling the Russian advance in all areas and even operating now quite effective counter attacks. The Russians are losing a lot of equipment and troops.”
In Lviv, BBC’s Lyse Doucet was asked during a broadcast about the St. Sofia cathedral behind her live-shot position, and she poignantly answered that before the invasion the glittering domes “lit up the night” in the city, which is a UNESCO cultural heritage site. She said the bells of the St. Michael cathedral still chime on the hour, calling it, “a reassuring message across this city that all is not lost, and perhaps someday this country will resume its rhythms and rituals.”
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