- In Mariupol, Russian airstrikes had already hit a maternity hospital and a theater, killing several
- Close to 600 people died in the theater attack, investigations had revealed
- The death figure was double the figure estimated by Ukrainian authorities
As many as 200 bodies were found in the basement of an apartment building in Mariupol, as workers continued to dig the rubble of the structure. The bodies were found in a decomposed state, said an official. Though he did not say when they were discovered, the sheer number of victims makes it one of the deadliest known attacks of the war.
Heavy fighting, meanwhile, continued in the Donbas, the eastern industrial region that Moscow's forces are intent on seizing.
Russian troops intensified their efforts to encircle and capture Sievierodonetsk and neighbouring cities.
Mariupol was relentlessly pounded during a nearly three-month siege that ended last week after some 2,500 Ukrainian fighters abandoned a steel plant where they had made their stand.
Russian forces already held the rest of the city, where an estimated 100,000 people remain out a prewar population of 450,000, many of them trapped during the encirclement with little food, water, heat or electricity.
At least 21,000 people were killed in the siege, according to Ukrainian authorities, who have accused Russia of trying to cover up the horrors by bringing in mobile cremation equipment and by burying the dead in mass graves.
During the assault on Mariupol, Russian airstrikes hit a maternity hospital and a theater where civilians were taking shelter. Investigations revealed that close to 600 people died in the theater attack, double the figure estimated by Ukrainian authorities.
Russia Ukraine War: Zelenskyy's statement
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused the Russians of waging “total war” and seeking to inflict as much death and destruction as possible on his country.
“Indeed, there has not been such a war on the European continent for 77 years,” Zelensky said, referring to the end of World War II.
Zelenskyy also called for “maximum” sanctions against Russia during a virtual speech to corporate executives, government officials and other elites on the first day of the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos.
He said sanctions need to go further to stop Russia’s aggression, including an oil embargo, blocking all of its banks and cutting off trade with Russia completely.
“This is what sanctions should be: They should be maximum so that Russia and every other potential aggressor that wants to wage a brutal war against its neighbor would clearly know the immediate consequences of their actions,” Zelenskyy said through a translator.
(With inputs from AP)