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Hundreds feared trapped in Ukraine theater hit by Russian airstrike

Mariupol, Ukraine theater
Posted at 8:07 AM, Mar 17, 2022

LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office says Russia carried out further airstrikes on the besieged port city of Mariupol early on Thursday morning.

Zelenskyy’s office did not report casualties for the latest strikes.

The strikes come amid rescue efforts in the city after a theater where hundreds had been sheltering was destroyed Wednesday in what Ukrainian authorities say was a Russian airstrike.

Some hope emerged Thursday, as one official said some people have managed to emerge from the theater, but the fate of others remained unknown.

Mariupol's city council accused Russia of dropping a bomb "on a building where hundreds of peaceful Mariupol residents were hiding."

CNN reports that the bombs reduced the entrance to the facility to rubble. Video has circulated from inside the theater that shows dozens of Ukrainians huddled together in tight spaces.

The office of Ukraine's president says despite the shelling, some have managed to escape the city.

“People are escaping from Mariupol by themselves using their own transport,” Zelenskyy’s office said, adding the “risk of death remains high” because of Russian forces previously firing on civilians.

The presidential office also reported artillery and airstrikes around the country overnight, including in the Kalynivka and Brovary suburbs of the capital, Kyiv. Russian artillery destroyed a school and a community center in a city near Kharkiv, according to Ukrainian officials.

It said fighting continues as Russian forces try to enter the Ukraine-held city of Mykolaiv in the south and that there was an artillery barrage through the night in the eastern town of Avdiivka.

Ukraine says Russian forces are increasingly resorting to artillery and air strikes as their advance stalls.

“The enemy, without success in its ground operation, continues to carry out rocket and bomb attacks on infrastructure and highly populated areas of Ukrainian cities,” the Ukrainian General Staff said.