A Ukrainian official from the Russian-controlled port city of Mariupol claimed 200 bodies had been discovered in the rubble of a ruined high-rise building, another gruesome find in the city that has been devastated by months of Russian bombardment.
Petro Andriushenko, adviser to the Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko, said in a statement on Telegram Tuesday that around 200 bodies were found during the dismantling of the rubble of a high-rise building near a suburban gas station. The bodies were found in a basement underneath the wrecked building in an advanced state of decomposition, he added.
"Due to the refusal of locals to collect and pack up the bodies of the dead, the Russian Ministry of Emergencies left the site," Andriushchenko said. "The bodies of the dead remained in place. The stench can be smelled almost throughout the quarter due to partially dismantled debris."
CNN was not able to immediately verify Andriushchenko's claim. Andriushchenko is not in Mariupol but has served as a clearinghouse for information from residents remaining in the city.
Ukrainian officials say more than 20,000 residents of the city died during three months of war — a figure that cannot be independently supported — and many of the dead have been hastily buried in courtyards. Andriushchenko said the process of reburying the dead has been complicated by Russian officials' insistence that reclaimed bodies be brought to a morgue and that a person claiming a body must agree to record a video in which the applicant says the deceased was killed by the Ukrainian military.
"The city has turned into a continuous cemetery," Andriushchenko said.