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Rescuers Search Theater Rubble as Russian Attacks Continue

Russia’s military denied bombing the theater or anyplace else in Mariupol on Wednesday.
People clear debris outside a medical center damaged after parts of a Russian missile, shot down by Ukrainian air defense, landed on a nearby apartment block, according to authorities, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 17, 2022. Russian forces destroyed a theater in Mariupol where hundreds of people were sheltering Wednesday and rained fire on other cities, Ukrainian authorities said, even as the two sides projected optimism over efforts to negotiate an end to the fighting. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
People clear debris outside a medical center damaged after parts of a Russian missile, shot down by Ukrainian air defense, landed on a nearby apartment block, according to authorities, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 17, 2022. Russian forces destroyed a theater in Mariupol where hundreds of people were sheltering Wednesday and rained fire on other cities, Ukrainian authorities said, even as the two sides projected optimism over efforts to negotiate an end to the fighting. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Rescue workers searched for survivors Thursday in the ruins of a theater blown apart by a Russian airstrike in the besieged city of Mariupol, while scores of Ukrainians across the country were killed in ferocious urban attacks on a school, a hostel and other sites.

Hundreds of civilians had been taking shelter in the grand, columned theater in central Mariupol after their homes were destroyed in three weeks of fighting in the southern port city of 430,000.

More than a day after the airstrike, there were no reports of deaths. With communications disrupted across the city and movement difficult because of shelling and other fighting, there were conflicting reports on whether anyone had emerged from the rubble.

“We hope and we think that some people who stayed in the shelter under the theater could survive,” Petro Andrushchenko, an official with the mayor’s office, told The Associated Press. He said the building had a relatively modern basement bomb shelter designed to withstand airstrikes. Video and photos provided by the Ukrainian military showed that the at least three-story building had been reduced to a roofless shell, with some exterior walls collapsed.

Other officials had said earlier that some people had gotten out. Ukraine’s ombudswoman, Ludmyla Denisova, said on the Telegram messaging app that the shelter had held up.

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