The Ukrainian city was one of the worst hit by Russian bombings
Mariupol, Ukraine (Reuters) – Andre is busy burying a dead neighbor in a makeshift graveyard across the road, opposite the bombed-out apartment building. Natalia wonders if her own home still stands, while a family worries about how long their meager food items will last.
Sunday marks another horror and devastation in the port city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine, which has seen the largest bombings and fighting since Russia launched its invasion on February 24.
Pausing with his shovel, Andrey said the neighbor he buried was not killed by Russian bombs or grenades, but died of illnesses exacerbated by recent weeks of major depression for failing to seek medical help.
“The bombs did not kill them, but all of them … the situation – the foundations, the lack of physical activity, the stress, the cold,” he said.
Nearby, several bodies were covered with dirty blankets. Some carry their belongings in plastic bags or cardboard boxes. A boy pushes a grocery truck near a car bomb.
Andrei said the Ukrainian military had instructed him and his friends to keep the bodies in a cool basement, but that these were already full of people who had taken refuge in Russian artillery and missile strikes.
“I hope there is some kind of reconstruction, which is only temporary,” he said, pointing to a hole in the ground.
‘Everything is ruined’
Local authorities say about 400,000 people have been stranded for more than two weeks in the strategic port city on the Sea of Azov, with little or no access to water, food, heat or electricity.
On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky called Russia’s siege of Mariupol a “terrorist act that will be remembered for centuries.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry on Sunday called the “Ukrainian nationalists” a “humanitarian disaster” in Mariupol and offered the city until early Monday morning to surrender. The DOS news agency reported that 59,000 people had been evacuated from Mariupol in the past three days.
Irina Chernenko, the university’s librarian, who has been sitting in the basement of her home for 11 days now, said she did not know how long they could still live.
“We believe in the best – live like human beings. The apartment is destroyed, everything is destroyed. Where can we go from the basement?” She said.
“We cook on the fire. For now we have food and firewood. In a week we have nothing, no food.”
Some parts of the city are controlled by Russian forces, while others are under Ukrainian control, so residents do not know the fate of relatives living in other districts.
Natalia, a kindergarten worker, said she was with her children and could not move to her own apartment on the other side of town.
“No news, no information. Everything is ruined … I don’t know how we’re going to live anymore.”
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