Mariupol officials say 300 dead in Russian airstrike on theater
Dylan Stableford, Senior Writer – March 25, 2022
Ukrainian officials said Friday that they now believe as many as 300 people may have been killed in the bombing of a theater in Mariupol on March 16.
The Mariupol City Council said it relied on witness accounts to estimate the death toll from the attack, which has been difficult to gather due to constant bombardment of the besieged city.
“From witnesses comes information that about 300 people died in the Mariupol Drama Theatre as a result of the bombing by a Russian plane,” the City Council said in a statement. “Up until the very last moment, one does not want to believe this horror. But the words of those who were inside the building at the time of this terrorist act says the opposite.”
City officials had said that about 130 people were rescued from the rubble. Video footage taken in the wake of the attack showed massive devastation inside the theater as people covered in dust and debris tried to escape.
The theater was being used as one of the main shelters in Mariupol, which has been pummeled by airstrikes in recent weeks.
According to the United Nations human rights office, at least 1,081 civilians have been killed and another 1,707 wounded in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, though the agency believes the actual death toll is likely much higher.
Russia has denied targeting civilians.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this week that the United States has officially determined that members of Russia’s forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine.
“Since launching his unprovoked and unjust war of choice, Russian President Vladimir Putin has unleashed unrelenting violence that has caused death and destruction across Ukraine,” Blinken said Wednesday. “We’ve seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities.
“The deliberate targeting of civilians is a war crime,” he said.