Russia-Ukraine live updates: 300 dead in airstrike on Mariupol theater, officials say

About 300 people were killed last week in a Russian airstrike on a drama theater-turned-bomb shelter in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, the city’s government said Friday, citing eyewitnesses.

“We didn’t want to believe in this horror,” the Mariupol City Council. said in a statement. “But the words of those who were inside the building at the time of this terrorist act say the opposite.”

As many as 1,500 civilians had been taking refuge in the grand, columned Donetsk Regional Theater of Drama in central Mariupol when it was struck on March 16, according to the Ukrainian government. Satellite images showed huge white letters on the pavement in front of and behind the building spelling out “CHILDREN” in Russian — “DETI” — to alert warplanes to those inside.

Video circulating online and verified by ABC News shows the immediate aftermath of the strike on the theater. People covered in dust are seen trying to make their way out of the theater, walking down from the first floor staircase in an area of ​​the building that was still standing at the time.

Since invading Ukraine on Feb. 24, Russian forces have been relentlessly bombarding Mariupol, destroying homes and leaving thousands of residents trapped. Ukraine has defied Russia’s ultimatum for its troops to lay down arms and surrender the strategic southeastern port city of 430,000.

-ABC NewsPatrick Reevell

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