Ukrainian officials and satellite images show evidence of mass graves outside Mariupol

A satellite image shows a mass grave believed to be in the village of Manhush, outside the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, on April 3.
A satellite image shows an alleged mass grave in the village of Manhush, outside the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, on April 3 (2022 Maxar Technologies)

Ukrainian officials on Tuesday located the apparent mass graves outside the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol – claims bolstered by the release of satellite images produced by Maxar Technologies collect and analyze.

In a Thursday post on Telegram, Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, wrote: “As a result of a long search and identification of the mass burial sites of the dead Mariupol residents, we I have identified the fact of the arrangement and mass burial of the dead Mariupol inhabitants of the village of Manhush.”

Andriushchenko – who is not in Mariupol but has acted as a clearinghouse for information from within the besieged city – posted the coordinates on Telegram, saying Russian forces had dug several mass graves, each the tomb measures about 30 meters (about 100 feet) in size, in Manhush, a town about 12 miles (about 19 km) west of Mariupol.

“The trucks carrying the bodies of the dead simply dumped them on the embankment,” he said. “This is direct evidence of war crimes and attempts to cover them up.”

Maxar released analysis of satellite images Tuesday that appear to show evidence of new graves at a site on the northwestern edge of Manhush.

Panoramic view of a cemetery and the expansion of the graves seen on March 23.
Overview of a cemetery and the expansion of the graves seen on March 23. (2022 Maxar Technologies)

“According to recent media reports, Russian soldiers have brought the bodies of those killed in Mariupol to this site,” Maxar said in his analysis. “A review of our satellite images from mid-March to mid-April shows that the expansion of the new tombs began March 23-26, 2022 and has continued to expand for several weeks. across. The tombs are aligned four sections of a linear row (measured about 85 meters each) and contain more than 200 new graves.”

Vadym Boichenko, the mayor of Mariupol, also alleged on Thursday that Russian forces had buried the bodies in mass graves in Manhush, amid claims by Ukrainian officials that up to 20,000 people had died in several years. week of shelling.

“More than 20,000 civilians – women, children, the elderly – have died on the streets of our city because of enemy artillery and aircraft,” he said. “And this is also [based] on the evidence of the heads of our municipal service agencies who saw it. And unfortunately, we have seen that the bodies of dead Mariupol residents have begun to disappear from the streets of our city. ”

Boichenko said the mass graves are located out of the way, near the cemetery.

“And there was a field near the cemetery, and in this field there were ditches, 30 meters (about 90 feet) long, and there they buried them, carried the dead in trucks, and threw them in these ditches. ,” he said.

CNN was unable to independently verify claims that the Russians had dumped bodies in mass graves at that site, and that a certain death toll from weeks of heavy shelling on Mariupol is nonexistent. Journalists in Mariupol have documented hasty burials of civilians in the besieged city, and images have surfaced on social media showing bodies apparently left to be collected in the city.

Evidence of mass graves outside Mariupol came as Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the “liberation” of the city by Russian forces, although he also called for an attempt to attack the Azovstal steel mill, fortress. the last of the Ukrainian military garrison inside the city, where civilians. was also protected.

“Unfortunately, it is not possible to evacuate civilians from Azovstal today,” Boichenko said. “Because we’re asking for a steady ceasefire. Somewhere, we need a day to be able to accommodate the residents who have been hiding there for 57 days in a row, and they’re being bombed. , bomb and bomb.”

Boichenko estimates that around 100,000 people remain in Mariupol.

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