Ukrainian authorities say Russian forces bombed a school in Mariupol where hundreds of people, including women and children, had taken shelter, as Moscow continued with its relentless attacks on the besieged port city.
“Yesterday, the Russian occupiers dropped bombs on an art school No 12,” the city council said on messaging app Telegram on Sunday, adding that about 400 women, children and elderly people had been sheltering there from bombardments.
The building in the east of the city had been destroyed, the council said. “Peaceful civilians are still under the rubble,” it added.
Russian troops have pushed deeper into the strategic city, which has been shelled for days and is facing a near-total communication blackout.
City authorities also said some residents of Mariupol were being “forcibly taken to Russia [and] stripped of their Ukrainian passports and given a piece of paper that carries no legal weight and is not recognised by the entire civilised world”.
Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to Mariupol’s mayor, said the residents had been taken to the Russian cities of Tomsk, Vladimir and Yaroslavl.
Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride reporting from the western city of Lviv said conditions in Mariupol were worsening.
“We are still waiting to see whether there are survivors,” McBride said about the school which was hit on Sunday.
“The problem, the authorities in Mariupol say, is that they simply can’t get close to this place because of the ongoing fierce fighting in the surrounding street. While people are being allowed to leave through humanitarian corridors, the Russian soldiers are checking if they are civilians instead of being soldiers or fighters,” he added.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk regional administration, said Russian forces had already deported more than a thousand residents of Mariupol.
“The occupiers are sending the residents of Mariupol to filtration camps, checking their phones and seizing (their) Ukrainian documents,” he added, urging the international community to intervene.
“I appeal to the international community: put pressure on Russia and its madman of a leader,” he said on Facebook.