Russian forces reportedly built several mass graves in Mariupol and deposited hundreds of corpses of Ukrainian war victims there, according to Ukrainian media. Satellite imagery from near the besieged Ukrainian city shows a mass grave site that has expanded in recent weeks to contain more than 200 new graves, a private US company said on Thursday.
Ukrainian officials identified the location of the mass graves two days earlier, CNN reported, as Russian forces have nearly captured Mariupol as of Thursday, and have backed Ukrainian forces and civilians to the Azovstal power plant.
Maxar Technologies MAXR.N said a review of images from mid-March through mid-April indicates the expansion of the graves began between March 23-26. The site lies adjacent to an existing cemetery in the village of Manhush, 20 kilometers west of Mariupol, Maxar said.
⚡️Satellite imagery shows 985-foot-long mass grave in village near Mariupol.A trench that appears to be a place of mass burial was dug out between March 23 and March 29, according to satellite imagery found by RFE/RL. Photo: RFE/RL pic.twitter.com/sey5u8wLen— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) April 21, 2022
Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, posted the coordinates of the site on Telegram accusing Russian forces of digging the graves, CNN reported.
Each grave measures about 30 meters.
Mariupol's mayor, Vadym Boichenko, said that Russia has been hiding evidence of its burials by collecting the corpses from the city streets and taking them to Manhush, a village nearby Mariupol, The Guardian reported, the same day the satellite images were released.
Boichenko went on to say that the mass grave was located in a field next to the village's cemetery and that most bodies had already been removed. He estimated that more than 20,000 residents of his city had been killed since the Russian invasion began.
Earlier this month, photos were released of dead civilians in the town of Bucha to what many claim to be a genocide committed by Russian forces. Russian forces had reportedly organized the killings by tying the hands of civilians behind their back followed by a gunshot to their heads. The incident led to widespread condemnation by many world leaders and accusations of Russia of committing war crimes.
Reuters contributed to this report.