By ANDREA ROSA
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Rescuers searched for survivors Thursday in the ruins of a theater blown apart by a Russian airstrike in the besieged city of Mariupol, while a ferocious bombardment left dozens dead in a northern city over the past day, authorities said.
Hundreds of civilians had been taking shelter in the grand, columned theater in central Mariupol after their homes were destroyed in three weeks of fighting in the southern port city.
Nearly a day after the airstrike, there were no reports of deaths. With much of the city cut off from the flow of information, there were also conflicting reports on whether anyone had emerged from the rubble.
“We hope and we think that some people who stayed in the shelter under the theater could survive,” Petro Andrushchenko, an official with the mayor’s office, told The Associated Press. He said the building had a relatively modern basement bomb shelter designed to withstand airstrikes.
Other officials had said earlier that some people had gotten out. Ukraine’s ombudswoman, Ludmyla Denisova, said on the Telegram messaging app that the shelter had held up.
Satellite imagery on Monday from Maxar technology showed huge white letters on the pavement in front of and behind the theater spelling out “CHILDREN” in Russian — “DETI” — to alert warplanes to those inside.
Russia’s military denied bombing the theater or anyplace else in Mariupol on Wednesday.
The strike against the theater was part of a furious bombardment of civilian sites in multiple cities over the past few days.