At least 5,000 people have died in the besieged port city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion last month, a senior Ukrainian official told AFP Monday.
“About 5,000 people were buried, but the burials stopped 10 days ago because of continued shelling,” Tetyana Lomakina, a presidential adviser now in charge of humanitarian corridors, told AFP by phone.
She added that the number of people killed could only be estimated with bodies stuck under the rubble. “We could be talking about 10,000 dead,” she said.
Ukraine’s humanitarian needs are direst in the southern Mariupol, where Ukraine said that about 160,000 civilians remain encircled by Russian forces, desperate for food, water and medicine.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry said the situation there was “catastrophic” and Russia’s assault from land, sea and air had turned a city once home to 450,000 people “into dust”.