'Up to 300 dead' in devastating Russian airstrike on Mariupol theatre

25 March 2022, 12:44

It's estimated 300 people died in the Mariupol theatre attack
It's estimated 300 people died in the Mariupol theatre attack. Picture: Getty/Social media/Ukrainian Interior Ministry/Handout

By Will Taylor

The devastating Russian attack on a theatre in the blitzed city of Mariupol is feared to have killed as many as 300 people, Ukrainian officials have said.

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The death toll is not confirmed yet, local authorities said after a Russian warplane bombed it on March 16.

The strike against people who were using it as a shelter is one of the many bombardments to strike the coastal city, which has been ruined by invading forces, which seem determined to capture it.

Mariupol council said on Friday: "From witnesses comes information that about 300 people died in the Mariupol Drama Theatre as a result of the bombing by a Russian plane."

Read more: Survivors 'emerging alive' after Russian bomb hits theatre used as shelter in Mariupol

Read more: Russian forces bomb art school where 400 people were taking shelter in Mariupol

"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."

About 130 people have been pulled from the rubble of the theatre, and the shelter managed to survive the strike, officials said.

It was previously feared some 1,300 people were inside at the time of the attack.

Satellite imagery showed the words "children" were written outside the theatre in Russian.

The strike shocked the world after it followed an attack on a maternity and children’s hospital in the same city.

An art theatre sheltering about 400 people was also hit.

Russia denied bombing the theatre, and previously claimed the hospital housed neo-Nazi fighters.

The city is the focus of serious worries about an unfolding humanitarian crisis because of heavy attacks it has suffered.