Russian “occupying forces” are moving quickly to clear debris from areas they bombed during the weeks-long offensive against Mariupol, according to Ukrainian officials.
Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the city’s mayor, said the Russians had begun “dismantling the debris” in hospital No. 3, which was heavily bombed in March. Video of the aftermath of the bombing showed heavily pregnant women being taken from the hospital; at least one later died.
“Now the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations “cleans up” there rapidly,” Andriushechnko said. “Surprisingly, the plan to clear the debris coincides with the places of greatest destruction … the drama theater, Myru Avenue, and now suddenly it is the hospital.”
The adviser said the Russians were also trying to clear and reopen the port, but that a sunken ship still blocked the entrance to the new port.
Like other Ukrainian officials, Andriushchenko is not in Mariupol but says he receives information and video from residents.
Not enough water: He said many basements were still flooded in the city because of damage to the water pipes and drinking water is mostly inaccessible. At the weekend, Andriushchenko posted video of a long line of people waiting for water from tankers. “There are huge queues at the bottling points, but there is not enough water for everyone,” he said.
He said efforts to reconnect the electricity supply had resulted in short-circuits and fires.
Andriushchenko said there was still a high mortality rate in Mariupol even though, beyond the besieged Azovstal plant, the Mariupol area is quiet.
The mortality rate is such that a new burial immediately appears in the place of exhumed graves in the yards,” he said at the weekend.
The new Russian-backed administration in the city has said little about its plans for reviving the city, where thousands of buildings have been destroyed and damaged, and where 100,000 people still live.
Civilian casualties “in the thousands”: United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet last week said her office continues to investigate allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in Ukraine, “many of which may amount to war crimes.”
Speaking from Vienna during a Human Rights Council special session on Ukraine, Bachelet said her office estimates “the civilian death toll in Mariupol to lay in the thousands” and that only with time “the true scale” of alleged atrocities will become clear. She said in areas of intense hostilities, such as Mariupol, it has been difficult for her team to get access and collect information.
Some background: Meanwhile, the Ukrainian General Staff said Russia continues massive artillery and air strikes to block and destroy units trapped at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol.
Several hundred wounded soldiers are trapped at the plant.
In his daily video message late Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said the government continues “very complicated and delicate negotiations to save our people from Mariupol, from Azovstal.”