“Usually, Mariupol is on fire day and night. Sometimes there is silence for 30 minutes, but the city is again attacked by tanks, artillery, several rockets and bombs and helicopters,” he said.
The city is located on the coast connecting the eastern part of the Donbass with the Crimean Peninsula, both of which have been under Russian control since 2014. It appears that Russian forces are trying to create a land route between taking full control of the area. Two regions crushed Mariupol with brutal military force.
Russia has denied targeting civilians in Mariupol, blaming Ukrainian forces for the killings.
According to Prokopenko, people in the city are now reluctant to leave their underground shelters even to get essentials, meaning they try to drink less water and eat less, only to go out to prepare hot food.
“People are cooking food in the streets, risking their lives under constant shelling and bombings,” the army commander said. “The street temperature is minus 5 degrees Celsius.”
Basic services such as gas, electricity and water are all available in the city. Bodies are left on the street because there is no one to collect them, or it is very dangerous to try.
Prokopenko said no one knew the exact number of people killed. “Some are buried beneath dilapidated buildings, buried alive,” he said.
Reports of a major attack on a shelter in a theater in Mariupol three days ago are slowly coming to light.
A picture taken Saturday by the Maxer satellite imagery provider shows that two-thirds of the Mariupol theater was completely destroyed, still standing on the west facade.
The building, which also served as the city’s main humanitarian assembly center, provided a temporary home for 800 to 1,300 people, according to local officials.
As can be clearly seen in the picture, the Russian word “children” is drawn in large letters on the floor in front of the entrance.
He confirmed earlier reports that Russian artillery fire was trying too hard to get the survivors out of the building.
Communications in the besieged city have been difficult for several days and rescue operations have been hampered by the risk of repeated shelling, according to reports from within the city.
Preliminary reports indicate that many survivors had to dig themselves out of the rubble. According to figures released by several Ukrainian leaders, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, 130 people have been rescued, one of them with serious injuries.
During a video call with Ukrainian Minister of Culture Oleksandr Tukashenko on Friday, Italian Minister of Culture Tario Franசிois Mariupol offered to help rebuild the theater.
Thanks to Fran்சois on Twitter on Wednesday, Zhelensky said Italy “sets a good example to follow. Together we will rebuild the country to the last brick.”