Russian airstrike on Mariupol drama theater killed 600 - AP

Russian airstrike on Mariupol drama theater killed 600 - AP

About 600 civilians were killed in a Russian airstrike on the Mariupol drama theater on March 16.

That's according to an investigation conducted by the AP news agency, Ukrinform reports.

"An Associated Press investigation has found evidence that the attack was in fact far deadlier than estimated, killing closer to 600 people inside and outside the building. That's almost double the death toll cited so far, and many survivors put the number even higher," the agency said.

According to the report, the AP investigation recreated what happened inside the theater on that day from the accounts of 23 survivors, rescuers, and people intimately familiar with its new life as a bomb shelter.

The AP also drew on two sets of floor plans of the theater, photos and video taken inside before, during and after that day and feedback from experts who reviewed the methodology.

All the witnesses said at least 100 people were at a field kitchen just outside, and none survived. They also said the rooms and hallways inside the building were packed, with about one person for every 3 square meters of free space.

Many survivors estimated around 1,000 people were inside at the time of the airstrike, but the most anyone saw escape, including rescuers, was around 200. The survivors primarily left through the main exit or one side entrance; the other side and the back were crushed.

The AP investigation also refutes Russian claims that the theater was demolished by Ukrainian forces or served as a Ukrainian military base. None of the witnesses saw Ukrainian soldiers operating inside the building. And not one person doubted that the theater was destroyed in a Russian air attack aimed with precision at a civilian target everyone knew was the city’s largest bomb shelter, with children in it.

Earlier, Mariupol City Council stated that 300 civilians had been killed at the Mariupol Drama Theater.

Russian aggression caused a terrible humanitarian catastrophe in Mariupol. The invaders are bombing unarmed residents and blocking humanitarian aid.

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