Survivors begin to emerge from bombed Mariupol theatreComments
Survivors are beginning to emerge from a bombed theatre in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Thursday afternoon, nearly 24 hours after the building was hit by a Russian airstrike.
Officials say there were "more than a thousand" civilians inside the building at the time of the attack, sheltering there after fleeing their own homes amid fierce fighting in the southern city.
Rescue workers are scrambling to rescue hundreds of people trapped inside the basement of the theatre with photos showing a large section of the grand, three-story building in the city centre collapsed to a smoking ruin.
Rescuers have started clearing rubble that had blocked the entrance to the basement, despite new strikes reported elsewhere in the city.
Miraculously, the shelter itself seems to have stood firm.
"The building withstood the impact of a high-powered air bomb and protected the lives of people hiding inside the bomb shelter," Ukraine's ombudswoman Ludmyla Denisova wrote on Telegram on Thursday.
She and Ukrainian parliament member Sergiy Taruta said some survivors had emerged. “People are coming out alive,” Taruta wrote on Facebook, though he did not say how many.
It is still not known if there are any injuries or deaths among those people still trapped inside. Another Ukrainian politician Lesia Vasylenko, who was in London in a delegation visiting parliament on Thursday, said there were reports of injuries but no deaths.
At least as recently as Monday, huge white letters on the pavement in front of and behind the theatre spelt out “CHILDREN” in Russian to alert warplanes of those inside, according to images released by the Maxar space technology company.
The Russian defence ministry denied bombing the theatre or anywhere else in Mariupol on Wednesday. Instead, the Russians blamed a Ukrainian far-right militia the Azov Brigade, for attacking the theatre.