Ukraine Shares Death Toll in Mariupol Theater Attack

'We still do not want to believe in this horror,' city council says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2022 6:37 AM CDT
Ukraine Says at Least 300 Died in Mariupol 'Horror'
A member of the Ukraine territorial defense unit prepares to go to the frontline in Yasnogorodk, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, March 25, 2022.   (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

(Newser) – At least 300 people were killed in last week's Russian attack on a theater in Mariupol, Ukrainian authorities say. "We still do not want to believe in this horror," the city council said in a statement Friday, per CNN. "We still want to believe that everyone managed to escape. But the words of those who were inside the building at the time of this terrorist act say otherwise." It's not clear how officials arrived at the estimate, the New York Times reports. Authorities have previously said up to 1,300 people—mainly women, children, and the elderly—were sheltering in the Mariupol Drama Theater when it was hit by what experts believe was a laser-guided bomb on March 16.

Officials estimated earlier this week that around 200 people survived the bombing. Survivors have given horrifying accounts of the aftermath. "There cannot and never will be an explanation for this inhuman cruelty," the council said in its statement Friday, noting that the Russian word for "CHILDREN" was written in large letters outside the building. After the bombing, authorities said hundreds of people were trapped in the rubble and rescue efforts were hampered by continued Russian bombing and the collapse of services in the devastated city. In other developments:

  • UK says Ukraine has reoccupied towns east of Kyiv. According to British intelligence services, Ukrainian forces have successfully retaken towns and defensive positions around 20 miles east of the capital, the Guardian reports.

  • Counteroffensive has changed perceptions. With intense fighting around Kyiv and in other areas, it's unclear how much progress Ukrainian forces have made, but the counteroffensive sends the message that Ukraine "is taking the fight to a foe with superior numbers and weaponry, and not just hunkering down to play defense," the New York Times notes. The pushback also highlights the logistical failures of Russian forces.
  • Zelensky urges country to stand firm. In his nightly video address Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged his country to keep up its military defense and "move toward peace, move forward," the AP reports. "We can’t stop even for a minute, for every minute determines our fate, our future, whether we will live," he said.
  • A grim new problem. CNN reports that the spring thaw has brought a grim problem to parts of Ukraine: The uncollected bodies of Russian soldiers are starting to rot. Vitaly Kim, governor of the southern Mykolaiv region, has urged residents to collect bodies that Russian forces left behind when they retreated. Officials say Russia is trying to conceal the death toll from the public and has rejected Ukraine's offers to return the remains. NATO estimates that up to 15,000 Russian troops have been killed.
(Read more Russia-Ukraine conflict stories.)

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