The situation in the besieged city of Mariupol was "difficult," the military governor of the Donetsk region said Tuesday, citing preliminary estimates that as many as 22,000 people had died in the city.
"The Mariupol situation makes it difficult to comment on the number of casualties, the city is under siege and blockaded," Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the Donetsk regional military administration, told CNN. "We are currently discussing 20,000 to 22,000 people dead in Mariupol."
Independent estimates of casualties from the relentless Russian bombardment of the city are not available. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said "tens of thousands" have died in Mariupol.
Kyrylenko also addressed reports of a possible chemical attack in Mariupol, details of which have yet to be fully confirmed.
"We know that last night around midnight, a drone dropped some so-far-unknown explosive device, people who were in the area in and around the Mariupol metallurgical plant, three people began to feel unwell," he said. "What we have heard was that there were three people who were affected, taken to hospital, given medical assistance, at the moment their lives were not in danger."
The regional military governor said the reports from the scene were preliminary, so he could not "100% confirm or comment on them," but said he could confirm that the incident happened.