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‘People Are Coming Out Alive’: Survivors Reported After Airstrike on Mariupol Theatre Sheltering a Thousand Civilians




Rescue workers have been digging survivors out of the rubble of a theatre which was reportedly bombed in a Russian airstrike in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, according to officials.

Prior to Wednesday’s attack, up to 1,000 men, women and children were thought to have taken shelter in the Drama Theatre’s basement seeking safety from the onslaught by President Vladimir Putin’s forces.

Earlier this week, a satellite image of the building showed the Russian word for “children” written in giant letters at both ends of the building, in an apparent bid to protect it from the shelling.

The shelter is believed to have stood firm and rescuers have been clearing rubble blocking the entrance to the basement, despite new strikes reported elsewhere in the city.

Mariupol has suffered the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the three-week war, with hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in basements with no food, water or power.

Live updates – ’21 killed in airstrike on school and community centre in Merefa’

A satellite image shows the word ‘children’ written in Russian before the attack. Pic: Maxar

Ukraine’s ombudswoman Ludmyla Denisova said on the Telegram messaging app: “The (theatre) building withstood the impact of a high-powered air bomb and protected the lives of people hiding in the bomb shelter.”

She and Ukrainian parliament member Sergiy Taruta said some survivors had emerged.

“People are coming out alive,” Mr Taruta wrote on Facebook, though he did not say how many. And it was unclear if there were injuries or deaths among those inside.

A city mayoral adviser, Petro Andrushchenko, said “now the rubble is being cleared”, adding: “There are survivors.”

Russia’s defence ministry denied targeting the building, according to Russian news agency RIA, instead accusing a far-right Ukrainian militia of blowing it up – but provided no evidence for this claim. The ministry also denied bombing anywhere else in Mariupol on Wednesday.

In other developments:

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o Russia attacks Biden for calling Putin a ‘war criminal’
o Fourth Russian general killed in fighting, Ukraine says
o UN Security Council to hold meeting on Ukraine later today

Mariupol’s mayor Vadym Boychenko said more than a thousand people had been sheltering in the theatre, adding: We will never forgive this.”

‘Children and pregnant women buried under rubble’

Russian airstrikes also hit a municipal swimming pool complex in the city where civilians, including women and children, had been sheltering, Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk regional administration, said on Telegram.

“Now there are pregnant women and women with children under the rubble there,” he said.

Burning homes in a residential area in northeast Chernihiv. Pic: Satellite image (C)2022 Maxar Technologies

Russian invasion ‘largely stalled’

The latest Ministry of Defence update indicates Russian forces have made “minimal progress” on land, sea and air in recent days.

They “continue to suffer heavy losses” and the invasion has “largely stalled on all fronts”, the MoD said.

More than 7,000 Russian soldiers have died since the invasion began on 24 February, estimates from American intelligence agencies show.

Estimates suggest more than 150,000 Russian troops have now entered Ukraine since 24 February, with around 14,000 to 21,000 injured.

Meanwhile, the MoD described the Ukrainian defence as “staunch and well-coordinated”, and said the vast majority of territory remains in Ukrainian hands.

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Mariupol hospital an ‘image of hell’

This follows reports that Russia is struggling with resources and morale.

It comes, however, as a Russian airstrike just before dawn on Thursday killed 21 people and destroyed a school and community centre in Merefa, near the northeast city of Kharkiv, according to officials.

And the governor of the northern city of Chernihiv said it has experienced “colossal losses and destruction” from Russian artillery and airstrikes.

Viacheslav Chaus told Ukrainian TV the bodies of 53 people had been taken to city morgues in the last 24 hours.

Also, another morning attack on the capital, Kyiv, just after 5am on Thursday, killed at least one person and wounded three.

Emergency services said the 16-storey building was hit by remains of a downed missile.

Read more: Mariupol – a city under siege

Biden labels Putin ‘war criminal’

Russia denies deliberately targeting civilians, but such cases appear to have fuelled President Joe Biden’s incendiary assertion that President Vladimir Putin is a “war criminal”.

Dmitry Peskov, Mr Putin’s spokesman, called it “unacceptable and unforgivable rhetoric by the leader of a country from whose bombs hundreds of thousands of people have died”.

Homes and buildings before the invasion in Sumy. Pic: Satellite image (C)2022 Maxar Technologies

Homes and buildings in Sumy after the invasion. Pic: Satellite image (C)2022 Maxar Technologies

Another $800m of military aid to Ukraine has been approved after President Zelenskyy addressed the US Congress and invoked the 9/11 and Pearl Harbor attacks.

America’s additional pledge includes 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems; 2,000 surface-to-air Javelin missiles; 6,000 portable anti-tank weapons and 100 so-called Switchblade “kamikaze” drones.

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Zelenskyy gets standing ovation from US Congress

Despite peace talks appearing to make progress – with hints that Ukraine may agree to stay neutral and out of NATO – the situation on the ground remains grim.

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Ukraine war: 5 things that happened on day 21

Relentless strikes pounded the second-biggest city of Kharkiv, in the northeast. However, officials said they were still managing to hold off Russian moves into the heart of the city.

Another apparent success was in occupied Kherson, on the Black Sea, where new satellite images of the airport appeared to show Russian helicopters and vehicles on fire after a strike on Tuesday.

Ukraine’s General Staff said the Russians were trying to remove any surviving military equipment, and that further afield its ground offensive on major cities had mostly stalled.

Kidnapped mayor freed

In Melitopol, the mayor Ivan Fedorov, who was kidnapped five days ago, has now been freed, President Zelenskyy said.

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Moment mayor of Melitopol ‘abducted’

The Interfax Ukraine news agency – quoting the president’s press aide – said he was swapped for nine captured Russian soldiers.

The three-week war has now killed 726 civilians, the UK’s Ministry of Defence said in its latest update on Wednesday night, citing UN figures.

However, it said the true casualty figure “is likely to be significantly greater”.

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WHO Estimates 15m People Have Died Directly or Indirectly From COVID – More Than Double Official Death Toll




The World Health Organisation estimates that 15 million people worldwide have now died of coronavirus – or as a result of its impact on health services.

WHO data shows the number of excess COVID mortalities to be somewhere between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2021. This is more than double the official death toll of around six million.

Excess mortality refers to the number of people who have died of the virus either directly or indirectly by being unable to access health services for other conditions.

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The figures were compiled using country-reported data and statistical modelling, the WHO said.


There were 14.9 million excess deaths associated with COVID-19 by the end of 2021, the UN body said on Thursday.

Most excess COVID deaths (86%) happened in Asia, Europe and the Americas, according to the figures.

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Middle-income countries accounted for 81% of deaths, with 28% occurring in upper-middle-income countries and 4% in low-income ones.

Some 68% of all excess deaths worldwide happened in just 10 countries.

There was a higher rate for men (57%) than there was for women (43%), with more excess deaths among the elderly than younger generations.

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WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus commented: “These sobering data not only point to the impact of the pandemic but also to the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can sustain essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems.

“WHO is committed to working with all countries to strengthen their health information systems to generate better data for better decisions and better outcomes.”

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Pope Francis Seen Using Wheelchair for the First Time for Mobility Reasons




The Pope has been pictured using a wheelchair – the first time he’s used one in public due to the knee pain that’s made it hard for him to walk and stand.

Francis, 85, was wheeled on stage and helped into a seat during an audience with a group of nuns and religious superiors from around the world at the Vatican.

He appears to be having a flare-up of sciatica, a nerve condition he suffers with that he’s called his “troublesome guest”.

The Pope has had to cancel or cut short activities several times in the last month because of pain in his right knee.

He was pictured in a wheelchair last July after major intestinal surgery, but this is believed to be the first time he’s used one in public due to his mobility problems.


Before Thursday’s event, he was able to walk the roughly 10 metres or so from the side entrance of the stage to his seat with some help.

He recently received some injections to try to relieve the pain but has continued to struggle.

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His impaired movement was apparent over Easter when he attended but did not take charge of masses at St Peter’s Basilica, instead delegating a cardinal or archbishop to preside.

During a trip to Malta in April he was also pictured using an elevator platform to get on and off the plane.

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Woman Pulled Alive From Rubble Six Days After Building Collapsed




A woman has been found alive in the rubble of a building that partially collapsed almost six days earlier, Chinese state media has said.

At least five people are confirmed to have died and possibly dozens are still missing following the disaster in the city of Changsha, in central China‘s Hunan Province, on 29 April.

The unidentified woman has become the 10th survivor and was rescued shortly after midnight today, about 132 hours after the rear of the six-storey building suddenly caved in, the official Xinhua News Agency has reported.

The woman was conscious and told rescuers how to pull her out without causing further injury, Xinhua added.

Teams had used dogs and hand tools as well as drones and electronic life detectors in the search.


All the survivors were reportedly in good condition after being treated in a hospital and it is thought intermittent rain showers over the last few days may have helped their chances of survival without food or water.

At least nine people have been arrested in relation to the collapse of what Xinhua has described as a “self-built building”.

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This includes its owner, on suspicion of ignoring building codes or committing other violations.

Three people in charge of design and construction were also held, along with five others who allegedly gave a false safety assessment for a guest house on the building’s fourth to sixth floors.

The building also housed residences, a cafe and shops.

An aerial photo shows the site of the collapsed residential building in Changsha, central China’s Hunan Province

There has been increase in the number of collapses of self-built buildings in recent years.

Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for additional checks to uncover structural weaknesses.

Following the building collapse at the weekend, he urged for more victims to be found in the rubble “at all costs”.

Poor adherence to safety standards, including the illegal addition of extra floors and failure to use reinforcing iron bars, is often blamed for similar disasters.

China also suffers from decaying infrastructure such as gas pipes that has led to explosions and collapses.

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