News Id: 844572

Satellite images show what appears to be a growing mass grave near Mariupol

A series of satellite images show what appears to be a growing mass grave site on the outskirts of Mariupol, the southern port city where Ukrainian officials say tens of thousands have been killed during a two-month long siege by Russian forces.

THE NEW YORK TIMES: A series of satellite images show what appears to be a growing mass grave site on the outskirts of Mariupol, the southern port city where Ukrainian officials say tens of thousands have been killed during a two-month long siege by Russian forces.

An analysis of the images by The New York Times shows approximately 300 pits dug close to a cemetery in Manhush, a village about nine miles west of Mariupol. The holes were dug over two weeks between March and April, while Russian forces were in control of the town, according to a Times analysis.

The first rows of pits appeared in images captured between March 23 and March 26. Satellite images captured two weeks later, on April 6, show a dramatic expansion of the site, with more than 200 freshly dug holes encompassing nearly an acre of land. Each pit shows dimensions of about 6 by 10 feet.

“These are huge graves, and they were dug for our dead civilians from Mariupol,” said Pyotr Andryushchenko, an aide to Mariupol’s mayor who released the coordinates for the site in a Telegram post on Thursday. “You can see from the images how big this area is — these graves are not meant for a small village like Manhush.”

Mr. Andryushchenko said in an interview that Mariupol residents told him about the grave site after they were recruited by Russian forces to collect black plastic body bags from the streets of the city and drive them in trucks to the site in Manhush. Some had looked inside the bags to confirm that they held bodies, and they estimated that thousands of bags had already been transported to the site, he said.

“We believe that these bags hold civilians, since our military has been working to clear the streets of fallen soldiers,” Mr. Andryushchenko said. The City Council of Mariupol said on Telegram on Thursday that Russian forces had buried as many as 3,000 to 9,000 people in Manhush.

The Times could not independently confirm the details of Mr. Andryushchenko’s or the council’s account, nor the identities of the witnesses, which he would not disclose for security reasons.