All that remains on the surface is smoldering wreckage, but underneath this theater, in Ukraine, more than 1,000 civilians are sheltered trying to survive another wave of Russian shelling.
Russian bomber planes demolished the theater Wednesday in the southern city of Mariupol, and images of the aftermath are devastating when you realize somewhere between 1,000 and 1,200 peaceful Ukrainians were inside hiding for their lives.
The number of casualties is unclear, although Parliament of Ukraine member Dmytro Gurin told BBC, “It looks like most of them have survived,” noting the basement where many are taking cover remains standing.
The Mariupol mayor’s office says emergency workers are still struggling to get to the building due to constant shelling.
This latest airstrike on defenseless civilians comes after Russia’s previous attacks on a church, apartment buildings and a maternity hospital.
President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russia targeted the theater deliberately, and added, “Our hearts are broken by what Russia is doing to our people. To our Mariupol.”
Satellite photos taken on Monday — 2 days before the attack — showed the Russian word for “children” written on the ground, warning Russian jets to avoid the building.
Local authorities say at least 2,400 people have been killed in Mariupol since the war began.
An estimated 300,000 residents are trapped in the city, while gas, electricity and water have been cut off.
Despite the horrifying video evidence, the Russian defense ministry is denying attacking the theater.