Visuals of civilians being dug out of rubble amid rescuing operations were some of the defining images of survival a day after an iconic theatre in Ukraine’s port city of Mariupol was targeted in Russian strikes, according to Kyiv. More than 50 people were reported dead as soon as the news broke – an overall count is likely to be much higher. The theatre was sheltering over a thousand people who had taken refuge amid the onslaught. Now, Italy has offered to rebuild the theatre.
In a tweet, Italy’s culture minister Dario Franceschini said on Thursday: “Italy is ready to rebuild the Theatre of Mariupol. The cabinet of Ministers has approved my proposal to offer Ukraine the resources and means to rebuild it as soon as possible. Theaters of all countries belong to the whole of humanity (sic).” To this, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded and also vowed to rebuild the country together to the last brick. “Thanks Dario Franceschini. You set a good example to follow. Together we will rebuild the country to the last brick,” he said.
Ukraine on Thursday said that the Russian forces have bombed the movie theatre where over a thousand civilians had sought shelter. The Mariupol city council in a post on messaging service Telegram said, “the invaders destroyed the Drama Theatre. A place where more than a thousand people found refuge. We will never forgive this.”
According to officials, over a thousand people, including children, had sought refuge. Mariupol mayor Vadym Boichenko condemned the attack and called it a ‘horrifying tragedy’. He added that “some people were lucky to survive, but unfortunately not all were lucky.”
Denying claims, Russia’s defence ministry said the theatre was destroyed by Ukraine’s nationalist Azov battalion. The ministry further claimed that civilians had been held “hostage” at the theatre. On the other hand, satellite images shared by AFP three days before the attack show ‘children’ written in Russian at the front and back of the building.