Ukraine says 130 people rescued from bombed Mariupol theatre, but many more could be trapped

The remains of the drama theatre hit by a bomb when hundreds of people were sheltering inside, in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 18, 2022. PHOTOS: REUTERS

LVIV, UKRAINE (REUTERS) - Ukraine's human rights ombudswoman said on Friday (March 18) 130 people had been rescued so far from a bombed theatre in Mariupol, but that there was still no information on more than 1,000 other people officials believe were sheltering there when the bomb fell.

Ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova said rescue work was ongoing at the site, which Ukraine says was hit by a powerful Russian air strike on Wednesday. Russia has denied bombing the theatre or targeting civilians.

"Rescuers are working. There is only this information: 130 people are alive and have been taken out. The rest are waiting for help," she said on national television.

This is the first time Ukrainian authorities have shared an estimate of the number of survivors of the attack. There has been no confirmation of the number of possible casualties.

"According to our data, there are still more than 1,300 people there who are in these basements, in that bomb shelter," Ms Denisova said, referring to underground shelters below the theatre.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the figures.

Mariupol city council has previously said there were more than 1,000 people sheltering under the theatre.

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