On March 16, a theater in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine was bombed. This Friday (25) the first number of possible victims was released in the attack: there were up to 300 people, according to the city hall, citing witness reports.
It was not yet possible to determine the exact death toll following the incident, the city’s city council said.
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Hundreds of people were sheltering in the Drama Theater when the attack took place.
Why is it difficult to know the death toll?
Mariupol is surrounded by Russian troops, and conquering it is one of the main objectives of the invading forces. As the city is in chaos and under near-constant bombing, it is impossible to say exactly how many people died in the attack, according to the Ukrainian government.
“From witnesses comes the information that about 300 people died in the Mariupol Drama theater as a result of the bombing of a Russian plane,” the city council said in a statement on Friday.
Satellite image of the Mariupol theater before the bombing shows the word ‘children’.
Petro Andrushenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, gave the same estimate without providing further details.
The head of the UN human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine, Matilda Bogner, said her team was unable to obtain enough information to verify the death toll at the theater.
“We are getting less and less information from there (Mariupol) and in this particular case we are still trying to verify the details,” she told reporters in Geneva via videolink.
Ukrainian officials have said around 130 people had been rescued from the rubble and that the theater’s basement had withstood the attack.
An image released on the Telegram account of the governor of Donetsk, Pavlo Kirilenko, shows the theater hit in Mariupol.
Russia has denied bombing the theater. The Russian government says its forces are not targeting civilians after invading Ukraine on February 24.