With ongoing Russian onslaught, Mariupol faces a ‘catastrophe’ said deputy mayor Serhiy Orlov in his interview for Forbes.
The city official said he did not know what happened to his own house as the city is under unceasing barrage of shelling and bombardment.
Since March 5, Russia has launched 22 air attacks on the city and dropped some 100 bombs that is literally a ton of explosives, said Orlov. It is understood that some 350-400 thousand found themselves trapped in the city.
The official report issued on March 13 put the number of casualties at 2358 people but the real figures can be two times bigger. City municipal workers have to bury people in mass graves as individual funerals were deemed unsafe.
Serhiy Orlov said local officials managed to identify at least 70 per cent of killed locals. ‘We are burying them in City Garden, in the center. The city suburbs are blocked as Russians do not let us into operational cemeteries. We started to bury people in the central cemetery that was closed 40 years ago, but now there is no room there. Now it is City Garden. Some people bury [victims] in their own gardens,’ said Orlov.
The city has suffered massive devastation with 80-90 % of building completely destroyed. City officials are grappling with mounting humanitarian concerns like where to get baby food for over 3 thousand little babies whose families are sheltering in basements.
‘A woman calls me, she does not yell, does not freak out, but asks you in a calm way, I have got a baby in my hands and it is dying from hunger, what do I do?, and You have no answers to this question’.
City services have been paralyzed. There are few trucks of local water operator still distributing water in some neighborhoods while police and emergency services have stopped operating as they lost personnel amid the Russian onslaught and are out of fuel to respond to emergency calls.
Dwindling water supplies make people use water from heating radiators, collect it from rain puddles, or melt snow to get it. The city still uses 3 or 4 water wells to deliver drinkable water to its residents yet it is literally a drop in the bucket for the city of 500 thousands.
Russian bombardment has laid waste to local plants. Azovstal, a steel plant, has been completely destroyed. Russian aggressors have seized a hospital and are holding its patients and personnel as hostages. One of its intern doctors who managed to call his family said people had been blocked in the building.
‘Lots of wounded Russian have been brought and doctors are made to treat them’.
According to the city official, Mariupol called for safe passages to restock on basic supplies and evacuate its people but the effort was thwarted by Russian troops that keep blocking roads leading to the city.
‘They want to force us surrender by brutal slaughter and destruction, by crushing civilians and infrastructure. This is how war looks. They are at war with people, not Ukrainian army’, stressed Orlov.