Russia bombs theater where hundreds sought shelter and 'children' was written on grounds

The Drama Theater in Mariupol, where hundreds were taking refuge, sustained heavy damage in a bombing on Wednesday, authorities said.

Lviv, Ukraine (CNN)A theater where hundreds of people had taken shelter in Mariupol was bombed on Wednesday, according to local authorities, as hundreds of thousands of people remain trapped in the coastal Ukrainian city that has been encircled for weeks by Russian forces.

Mariupol City Council, who shared an image of the destroyed building, said Russian forces had "purposefully and cynically destroyed the Drama Theater in the heart of Mariupol."
"The plane dropped a bomb on a building where hundreds of peaceful Mariupol residents were hiding," it said.
    CNN has geolocated the image and confirmed it is of the theater in the southeastern port city. The word "children" was spelled out on two sides of the theater before it was bombed, according to satellite images.
      Videos of the aftermath showed a fire raging in the theater's ruins. The number of casualties is unknown, authorities said.
      "It is still impossible to estimate the scale of this horrific and inhumane act, because the city continues to shell residential areas," the council wrote on Telegram. "It is known that after the bombing, the central part of the Drama Theater was destroyed, and the entrance to the bomb shelter in the building was destroyed," it added.
      New satellite images from Maxar Technologies show that on Monday, the word "children" was spelled out in Russian in two areas outside the theater that was bombed on Wednesday.
      The Drama Theater in Mariupol was attacked on Wednesday. The number of casualties is unknown
      Petro Andruishchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, described the theater as the largest shelter "in number and size" in the city's center. "More than a thousand people were hiding there" but "the probability of getting there to dismantle the rubble is low due to constant shelling and bombing of the city," he said.
        Military strikes also hit a building that houses the Neptune Pool, just over four kilometers (approximately 2.5 miles) from the theater, according to videos shared by a local official. Its authenticity has been confirmed by CNN.
        Maxim Kach, a Mariupol city government official, said the building was for civilians, with only women and young children hiding within it and not military personnel.
        He said rescue workers were busy trying to get a pregnant woman out from under the rubble. CNN has not been able to verify that information.
        Mariupol has been besieged by Russian forces since March 1. After weeks of failed attempts to establish safe civilian evacuation corridors, about 20,000 people managed to leave the city on Tuesday, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said.
        Officials say its trapped residents have been surviving without electricity, water and food, with people melting snow or dismantling heating systems for a drop to drink.
        The relentless bombardment and street fights in the city have restricted movements. The day before, a Ukrainian official accused Russian troops of holding some 400 people captive at Mariupol's Regional Intensive Care Hospital.
        "It is impossible to find words that could describe the level of cruelty and cynicism with which the Russian occupiers are destroying the civilian population of the Ukrainian city by the sea. Women, children, and the elderly remain in the enemy's sights. These are completely unarmed peaceful people," the city council said.
        "We will never forgive and never forget," it added.