Ukrainian authorities said the Russian military bombed an art school where about 400 people had taken refuge in the port city of Mariupol, where President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said an unrelenting siege by Russian troops would go down in history for what he said were war crimes.
Local authorities said the school’s building was destroyed and people could remain under the rubble. There was no immediate word on casualties.
Russian forces on Wednesday also bombed a theater in Mariupol where civilians were sheltering. City authorities said 130 people were rescued but many more could remain under the debris.
A Russian airstrike hit a maternity hospital in Mariupol earlier in the war.
“To do this to a peaceful city, what the occupiers did, is a terror that will be remembered for centuries to come,” Zelenskyy said in a video address to the nation.
Mariupol, a strategic port on the Azov Sea, has been encircled by the Russian troops, cut from energy, food and water supplies and faced a relentless bombardment. Local authorities have said the siege has killed at least 2,300 people and some of them had to be buried in mass graves.
Russian forces have pushed deeper into the battered city, where heavy fighting shut down a major steel plant and local authorities pleaded for more Western help Saturday.
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“Children, elderly people are dying. The city is destroyed and it is wiped off the face of the earth,” Mariupol police officer Michail Vershnin said from a rubble-strewn street in a video addressed to Western leaders that was authenticated by The Associated Press.
The fall of Mariupol, the scene of some of the war’s worst suffering, would mark a major battlefield advance for the Russians, who are largely bogged down outside major cities more than three weeks into the biggest land invasion in Europe since World War II.