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Analysis of satellite images debunk Russia's denials about civilian bodies found in Bucha

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Satellite imagery of a section of Yablonska Street in Bucha where dead bodies were found.
  • A New York Times analysis debunks recent Russian denials of civilian deaths in the town of Bucha.
  • Satellite imagery reveals that many of the bodies have been in the streets for weeks.
  • Russian forces occupied Bucha and much of the surrounding region for weeks following the invasion. 
  • For more stories visit www.BusinessInsider.co.za 

Satellite images out of the Ukrainian town of Bucha corroborate recent reports of civilian deaths in the Kyiv-Oblast suburb, while simultaneously refuting Russia's denials about the civilian bodies found, according to a New York Times visual analysis.

Gruesome images and videos of dead bodies lying in the streets of Bucha emerged on social media over the weekend, prompting international outcry and condemnation.

Russia's Ministry of Defense denied responsibility for the casualties in a Sunday Telegram post, accusing Ukraine of staging the footage and calling the scene a "hoax." The Russian Ministry even suggested that Ukraine had placed the bodies in the street sometime after March 30, after "all Russian units withdrew completely from Bucha."

Satellite images from Maxar Technology reviewed by The Times (and also sent to Insider), however, show that some of the bodies have been lying in the streets for more than three weeks, during a time when Russian troops occupied the town.

The civilians' cause of death is unclear. Journalists on the ground said some of the bodies found appeared to have been shot. Social media images appeared to show some bodies with their hands tied behind the back. According to The Times, some of the bodies are close to what the newspaper said appeared to be an "impact crater."

The outlet conducted a before-and-after analysis of the satellite imagery, which shows the dark objects appearing along a half-mile section of Yablonska Street between March 9 and March 11. The objects are in identical positions to the bodies recorded in a graphic video filmed by a local council member in early April, after Ukrainian forces retook Bucha, according to the report. 

A separate video reviewed by The Times shows three more bodies on a different section of Yablonska Street next to abandoned vehicles. Satellite photos show that the abandoned car and body appear sometime between March 20 and 21, the outlet reported. 

More recent Maxar satellite images, taken Thursday, appear to show a partially excavated mass grave outside a church in Bucha. The photos show a 45-foot long trench where social media video appeared to show officials placing the bodies of Ukrainian civilians. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Bucha on Monday after accusing Russian forces of killing 300 civilians in the town over the weekend.

Bucha, which is home to more than 28,000 people, was the site of some of the heaviest fighting immediately following the Russian invasion on February 24. The surrounding region spent weeks under Russian military control, but Ukrainian officials said the country had regained control of the "whole Kyiv region" over the weekend. 

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