There is still no information about possible fatalities or the condition of survivors after a theater building, which was being used as a shelter, was hit in the besieged city of Mariupol, Ukraine, APA reports citing CNN.
As many as 1,200 people are believed to have been sheltering in the theater when it was struck by what Ukrainian officials say was a Russian air strike early Wednesday evening.
First reports Thursday morning from the former Donetsk regional head, Sergiy Taruta, that people were emerging alive from the rubble of the building have been backed up by Liudmyla Denisova, the Ukrainian parliament’s commissioner for human rights.
“In Mariupol, the release of civilians from the rubble of the drama theatre has begun. The building withstood the impact of a high-powered air bomb and protected the lives of people hiding in the bomb shelter. Work is underway to unlock the basement,” Denisova said in a statement on Telegram.
Adults and children, she said, were coming out alive but the full extent of what had taken place remained unclear.
“There is currently no information about the dead or wounded under the rubble of the theatre,” she said.
Aerial photos of the building before it was hit clearly show the Russian word for “children” painted in huge lettering on the ground on two sides of the building.
Denisova called the attack “an act of genocide and a terrible crime against humanity as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”
Russia has denied its forces hit the building and instead accused “militants of the nationalist 'Azov' battalion" of blowing up the theater.
People are beginning to emerge alive from a theatre in Mariupol that had reportedly been sheltering at least 1,000 civilians when it was bombed by Russian forces, local authorities said on Thursday, APA reports citing The Telegraph.
Casualty numbers were still unknown on Thursday morning with rescuers struggling to reach those trapped under the rubble.
But the region's former governor said there were definitely some survivors.
"Truly good news from Mariupol on the morning of the 22nd day of the war after a horrific night: The bombshelter has withstood. Rescuers are clearing out the debris, people are coming out of there alive," said Serhiy Taruta, a Mariupol native.
The theatre was reported to be being used as a bomb shelter by at least 1,000 women and children before it was hit late on Wednesday.