By ANDREA ROSA
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian authorities struggled to determine the fate of hundreds of civilians who had been sheltering in a theater smashed by a Russian airstrike in the besieged city of Mariupol as officials said Russian artillery Thursday destroyed more civilian buildings in another frontline city.
Some hope emerged, as an official said some people had managed to survive the Mariupol theater strike.
A photo released by Mariupol’s city council showed an entire section of the large, 3-story theater had collapsed after the strike Wednesday evening. Several hundred people had taken refuge in the building’s basement, seeking safety amid Russia’s 3-week, strangulating siege of the strategic Azov Sea port city.
At least as recently as Monday, the pavement in front of and behind the once-elegant theater was marked with huge white letters spelling out “CHILDREN” in Russian, according to images released by the Maxar space technology company.
Rubble had buried the entrance to the shelter inside the theater, and the number of casualties was unclear, Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk regional administration, said on Telegram. Ukrainian parliament member Sergiy Taruta, a former governor of the Donetsk region where Mariupol is located, later said on Facebook that some people had managed to escape alive from the destroyed building. He did not provide any further details.