• Mariupol turns to mass graves as bombardments and shelling persist throughout the Ukrainian city. 
  • The UN reported Thursday that there have been at least 549 civilian deaths and 957 injuries.
  • “Besieged Mariupol is now the worst humanitarian catastrophe on the planet,” Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs said.

The number of civilian and soldier deaths continues to rise as Russian forces sustain their attacks on the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, causing city officials to resort to burying the dead in mass graves, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Morgues have been inundated with the dead so the city has resorted to burying civilians and soldiers in a mass grave. A cemetery in the center of the city now hosts the mass grave site which is essentially a trench 25 meters (80 feet) long, per the AP.

Civilians who died from the shelling, killed service members, as well as those who died from natural causes have been buried at the site.

The burial process is unceremonial as the danger in the region persists, the AP reported, citing that the cemetery itself was bombed on Tuesday.   

The total number of bodies in the trench remains unclear, but between Tuesday and Thursday there were at least 70 buried in the trench, ABC News reported. 

ABC News also reported that Russian forces conducted at least eight major airstrikes between Wednesday and Thursday, even striking a maternity hospital on Wednesday. A fire department was also struck.

Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba called the recent attacks “the worst humanitarian catastrophe on the planet.” The UN said Thursday that there have been at least 549 civilian deaths and 957 injuries throughout the country since the start of the invasion on February 24 — though the number is likely an undercount.

“Unable to defeat the Ukrainian Army, Putin bombs the unarmed, blocks humanitarian aid,” Kuleba tweeted Friday. “We need planes to stop Russian war crimes!” 

 

Mariupol is a strategic city and has faced a heavy bombardment and has been cut off from power. A Ukrainian woman named Marina Levinchuk told The New York Times that the city is without water, heating, and gas, so residents have had to resort to sharing food and cooking outside.

She recalled a text message sent by city officials advising residents to put the bodies of killed family members outside.

“Just put the body outside, cover it, tie up the hands and the legs and leave it outside,” she told the outlet.

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