Russian planes destroy a civilian target – Mariupol Theater survivors

A few days ago from the rubble of the Mariupol Drama Theater the survivors of a new bomb attack by Russian planes emerged like ghosts as rescuers tried to clear the debris to enter the basement where hundreds of people had found refuge. At least 130 people were saved, said Ukrainian parliamentarian Olga Stefanyshyna. “Most of them seem to have survived and are doing well,” announced another MP, Dmytro Gurin, a native of Mariupol. But rescues are complicated, he explained, “the bombing and artillery don’t stop and the planes drop bombs”. It is still unclear how many people survived in the facility, said Pyotr Andryushchenko, adviser to the mayor of Mariupol. Nobody knows exactly how many people were there, maybe 500, maybe more than a thousand, almost all women, old people and children. And no one knows yet if there are deaths and injuries among those who fled from the outskirts of Mariupol under constant attack and had thought of escaping to safety in the basement of that theater which they thought would be spared. They also had, with an ingenuity that the day after evoked anger and sadness, written in large letters in Cyrillic, the word ‘children’ on the ground near the building so that they could be seen by the Russian invading planes. The letters were so visible that they could also be read perfectly from the satellite images released by the US company Maxar and relaunched by websites and TVs all over the planet. For ten days that basement was the refuge of Kate, 38, and her 17-year-old son, who fled the day before the bombing because they no longer felt safe there. “The buildings around the theater had been damaged or destroyed. We knew we had to escape because something terrible was going to happen soon,” they told the BBC and said that “in the beginning it was really hard, because they didn’t have a well-organized food supply. In the first two days the adults had no food. They only gave it to the children. Then the Ukrainian military organized aid: hot meals, water, blankets. The box office was transformed into a distribution point for food and drinks, the padded armchairs of the audiences disassembled to invent mattresses, the wooden ones cut and used to light small fires. But the crying of children were endless in the underground camp. The videos shot by the refugees before the bombs showed terrible images but the day of horror was yet to come. A day that marked a “deliberate attack on a civilian target” and which is “a clear violation of international law,” said James Cleverly, number 2 of the British Foreign Office, evoking another war crime to add to the list. After leaving Mariupol, Kate headed to Lviv, in western Ukraine, a region that was largely spared from the attacks. “The first day, after we got out, I couldn’t talk. We all cried,” she confessed. “But now it seems there are no more tears. I don’t think this pain will ever go away.”

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Giuseppe Panebianco


II A – FurciSiculo

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