Ukrainian officials on Tuesday identified the location of apparent mass graves outside the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, claims backed up by the release of satellite imagery collected and analyzed by Maxar Technologies.
In a Thursday post on Telegram, Petro Andriushchenko, adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, wrote: “As a result of a long search and identification of places of mass burial of dead residents of Mariupol, we established the fact of the disposal and mass burial of the dead residents of Mariupol in the village of Manhush”.
Andriushchenko, who is not in Mariupol but has served as a clearinghouse from inside the besieged city, posted the coordinates on Telegram and said Russian forces had dug several mass graves, each about 30 meters (about 100 feet), in Manhush, a city about 12 miles (about 19 kilometers) west of Mariupol.
“The trucks carry the bodies of the dead, in fact they just dump them on the embankment,” he said. “This is direct evidence of war crimes and attempts to cover them up.”
Maxar on Tuesday released an analysis of satellite images that appear to show evidence of new graves at a site on the northwestern edge of Manhush.
“According to recent media reports, Russian soldiers have been carrying the bodies of people killed in Mariupol to this location,” Maxar said in his analysis. “A review of our satellite imagery from mid-March to mid-April indicates that the expansion of the new set of graves began between March 23-26, 2022 and continued to expand over the past few weeks. The graves are aligned in four sections of linear rows (measuring approximately 85 meters per section) and containing more than 200 new graves”.
Vadym Boichenko, the mayor of Mariupol, also alleged on Thursday that Russian forces have buried bodies in mass graves in Manhush, amid claims by Ukrainian officials that as many as 20,000 people have been killed in weeks of shelling.
“More than 20,000 civilians – women, children, the elderly – died in the streets of our city by enemy artillery and planes,” he said. “And this is also [based] in the testimony of the heads of our municipal services, who saw it. And sadly, we have seen that the bodies of dead Mariupol residents have started to disappear from the streets of our city.”
Boichenko said the mass graves were on a bypass road, near a cemetery.
“And there is a field near the cemetery, and in this field there are ditches, 30 meters (about 90 feet) long, and they bury them there, they bring the bodies of the dead in trucks and they dump them in these ditches,” he said. saying.
CNN cannot independently verify claims that the Russians have disposed of bodies in mass graves there, and no firm death toll is available after weeks of heavy bombardment in Mariupol. Journalists in Mariupol have documented the hasty burial of civilians in the besieged city, and images have surfaced on social media showing bodies apparently left for collection in the city.
Evidence of mass graves on the outskirts of Mariupol emerged as Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the city’s “liberation” by Russian forces, though he also called off an attempt to storm the Azovstal steel plant, the last stronghold of the Ukrainian defenders inside the city, where civilians have also sheltered.
“Unfortunately, today it is not possible to evacuate civilians from Azovstal,” Boichenko said. “Because we are calling for a stable ceasefire. Somewhere we need a day to be able to accommodate the residents who have been hiding there for 57 days straight, and they are being bombed and bombed and bombed.”
Boichenko estimated that around 100,000 people remain in Mariupol.