Ukrainian emergency workers and volunteers carry a wounded pregnant woman from a maternity hospital who was injured by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 9, 2022.
- Officials say 2,500 people have died since Russia invaded Ukraine last month.
- Russian forces said fighting around Mariupol had reached the city center.
- Russia denies attacking civilians.
In Mariupol, everyday life is a series of harrowing escapes from bombings and basic survival rituals, amidst the rubble that lies everywhere.
Uncollected corpses wrapped in blankets, coats or any available covering lie in patios cleared of debris. The dead are often buried in common graves.
All around are the black shells of the expansive tower blocks typical of Soviet-era homes. Twisted metal on balconies, broken windows, forest, metal and other debris scattered between buildings and in streets.
About 400,000 people have been trapped in the strategic port city on the Sea of Azov for more than two weeks, sheltered from heavy bombardments that have cut off key supplies of electricity, heat and water, according to local authorities.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Friday that its forces were “tightening the loop” around Mariupol and that fighting had reached the city center.
Without running water or heating, women squat around temporary grills to prepare the food they can find. As spring approaches, there is no more snow to melt into drinking water.
Residents say no one expected this in post-Soviet Ukraine – a relentless attack from what was once thought of as a “fraternal” Russia – although some have gone through other upheavals that pushed the country back under Soviet rule.
“She had a Russian passport, Russian citizenship, lots of medals,” said a depressed Alexander, 57, pointing to the spot in the open where the body of his wife’s mother is lying right now.
“My mother-in-law was born in 1936. She survived through the siege of Leningrad,” he said, referring to the 900-day Nazi siege of the city now known as St. Petersburg. Petersburg.
She was an honored fish farming worker in the Russian Federation. So that’s where she’s.
Officials in Mariupol say 2,500 people have died since Russian forces flooded the Ukrainian border on February 24.
Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Friday that about 35,000 had managed to leave the city in recent days, many on foot or in convoys of private cars in the rare moments when Russian shelling subsides.
Those who are left are sometimes on the verge of despair – the cold and anxiety take their toll.
“I’m awful. I do not want to blame anyone, but I’m disgusted and scared. And I’m cold,” said one woman, Olga, who was wearing a pink hat under a hoodie and a large coat. “I just have no words. I was not ready for my life to be like this.”
Russia denies targeting civilians and has accused Kiev of using them as human shields, something Ukrainian officials deny.
Mariupol is seen as a strategic award to the Russian invaders for creating a bridge between Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014, and two separatist enclaves in eastern Ukraine.
A maternity hospital was bombed last week, sending patients fleeing the streets. A theater used to house families forced from their homes was also hit – despite the fact that the word “children” was written outside in letters large enough to be read by pilots.
A sense of solidarity among residents who fear for their lives has taken hold. Strangers receive other strangers.
“We spent two days in the basement. She could not move. I thought she would not survive,” said a middle-aged resident, gesturing to his elderly mother.
Then we managed to leave the basement. This is the first time I’ve seen these people. But they protected us. And here we sit, covered with blankets. It’s very cold here. We just want to go home.
Children, look, incomprehensible.
“Don’t worry, my little darling. Everything will be fine,” said a non-smiling young mother, hugging her two school-age children.
Out in the courtyard, groups of men milled around aimlessly, examining the shattered buildings.
And around them lay the corpses. The only identification marks are scraps of paper attached to makeshift crosses, each bearing a name and a date of birth and death. And no indication of when they will be picked up.
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Dead buildings tower over uncollected corpses in Mariupol, on the front lines of Ukraine’s war
Source link Dead buildings tower over uncollected corpses in Mariupol, on the front lines of Ukraine’s war