- Survivors have begun to emerge from the wreckage of a bombed-out theatre in Mariupol, Ukraine, officials said on Thursday.
- Russian forces on Wednesday struck the building where hundreds of civilians were sheltering.
- A bomb shelter in the basement of the theatre in the besieged city managed to withstand the destruction, officials said.
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Survivors have begun to emerge from the wreckage of a bombed-out theatre in Mariupol, Ukraine after Russian forces struck the building in which hundreds of civilians were sheltering, Ukrainian officials said Thursday.
The Drama Theatre, which satellite images showed had the word "CHILDREN" written largely in Russian on the pavement outside it, was left destroyed after Ukrainian officials said that a Russian aircraft dropped a bomb on the building on Wednesday amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
However, a bomb shelter in the basement of the theatre in the besieged city managed to withstand the destruction, officials said.
"After a terrible night of uncertainty on the morning of the 22nd day of the war, finally good news from Mariupol!" Ukrainian parliament member Sergiy Taruta posted on Facebook, adding, "The bomb shelter withstood. The debris is being dismantled, people are coming out alive!"
It was not immediately clear how many people survived the theatre bombing.
Lyudmila Denisova, the Ukrainian parliament's commissioner for human rights, confirmed on Thursday in a Facebook post, "In Mariupol, the release of civilians from under the collapse of the [drama] theatre started."
"The building withstood the impact of a high-powered air bomb and protected the lives of people hiding in the bomb shelter. Work is underway to unlock the basement," Denisova said, explaining that adults and children were coming out alive.
She added, "There is currently no information about the dead or wounded under the rubble of the theatre."
Denisova declared the bombing of the theatre "an act of genocide and a terrible crime against humanity."
In another Facebook post, Taruta said Russian troops "hit the shelter with hundreds of women and children DELIBERATELY!"
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday that Russian forces "purposefully dropped a huge bomb" where "hundreds of people were hiding from the shelling there."
"The death toll is still unknown," Zelenskyy said. "Our hearts are broken by what Russia is doing to our people."
The city of Mariupol has been left without water, heat, and food for several days amid Russia's attack on the country.
Since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched Russia's war against Ukraine on February 24, Russian troops have shelled multiple Ukrainian cities, including residential buildings and hospitals.
Translations by Oleksandr Vynogradov.