Mariupol theatre strike killed 600 people, investigation suggests

·2-min read
Up to 600 people are believed to have died  (REUTERS)
Up to 600 people are believed to have died (REUTERS)

Russia’s bombing of the theatre in Mariupol killed an estimated 600 people, an investigation has found.

Although the Ukrainian government initially claimed 300 people had died in the attack, the Associated Press recreated the incident and claimed the actual number of fatalities could be double the figure first thought.

The new investigation recreated what happened inside the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theatre using a 3D model of the building and spoke to witnesses who survived the blast on March 16, along with experts.

Survivors of the incident claimed 1,000 people were inside the theatre at the time of the airstrike with many forced to cram into the hallways after fleeing their homes.

Many civilians took shelter in the building to escape Russia’s attack (REUTERS)
Many civilians took shelter in the building to escape Russia’s attack (REUTERS)

Elena Bila, who was a stage manager at the theatre said: “When people came in, they thought they were safe. In fact, they weren’t safe."

Prior to the attack on the theatre, Russian forces also hit a maternity hospital in the city which killed three women, including one child.

James Gow, a professor of international security at King’s College London, said bringing together witness testimony will be key in establishing any patterns of war crimes committed by Russian forces.

Mariupol has seen some of the worst shelling since the war began in Ukraine, with large parts of city the now reduced to rubble due to the heavy bombardment from Russian forces.

Ukrainian forces have retreated to the Azovstal steel works where it is thought up to 200 civilians have also taken shelter at the city’s last stronghold.

Approximately 100 civilians managed to flee the steel works and headed to the city of Zaporizhzhia on Sunday.

Although some managed to flee, Ukrainian officials claimed Russian shelling resumed soon after.

As of Tuesday, mayor of Mariupol Vadym Boichenko said contact had been lost with the remaining Ukrainian fighters.

It is thought fighting has intensified with Russian now attempting to storm the factory and its vast network of underground tunnels.

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