Ukrainian city of Mariupol searches for survivors, says theater bomb shelter held

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that the allegation that Russia had bombed the theater was a "lie."

 A view shows cars and a building of a hospital destroyed by an aviation strike amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 9, 2022.  (photo credit: Press service of the National Police of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS)
A view shows cars and a building of a hospital destroyed by an aviation strike amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 9, 2022.
(photo credit: Press service of the National Police of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS)

A bomb shelter under a theater in the besieged city of Mariupol withstood what Ukraine said was a Russian air strike and there are believed to be survivors trapped underneath, an official at the mayor's office said on Thursday.

Ukraine accused Russian forces on Wednesday of dropping a powerful bomb on the theater, where it says hundreds of civilians including many children were sheltering during a more than two-week-long siege of the encircled port city.

Russia has denied bombing the theater.

"The bomb shelter held. Now the rubble is being cleared. There are survivors. We don’t know about the (number of ) victims yet," mayoral adviser Petro Andrushchenko told Reuters by phone.

He said rescue work was underway to reach survivors and establish the number of casualties, which was still unknown.

 A satellite image shows burning apartment buildings at Zelinskovo street, in the western section of Mariupol, Ukraine March 12, 2022. (credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS) A satellite image shows burning apartment buildings at Zelinskovo street, in the western section of Mariupol, Ukraine March 12, 2022. (credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS)

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that the allegation that Russia had bombed the theater was a "lie."

She repeated Kremlin denials that Russian forces have targeted civilian areas since the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

"Russia's armed forces don't bomb towns and cities," she told in a briefing.