Rescuers are searching for survivors after Russia reportedly launched an airstrike on a Ukrainian theater that was sheltering displaced civilians.
ABC News reports that hundreds of civilians had taken shelter in the theater in central Mariupol after their homes were destroyed. According to Fox News, satellite footage before the attack showed the word for "children" written in Russian on the ground near the theater.
"We hope, and we think that some people who stayed in the shelter under the theater could survive," Petro Andrushchenko, an official with the mayor's office, told The Associated Press. He said the building had a relatively modern basement bomb shelter designed to withstand airstrikes.
Mariupol's deputy mayor, Sergei Orlov, told the BBC between 1,000 and 1,200 people had been in the building. The number of casualties remains unknown.
"The bomb strike demolished the central part of the theatre building, causing large numbers of people to be buried under the debris," the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. "The assessment of the exact number of persons affected is currently impossible due to ongoing shelling."
The theater reportedly had a shelter underneath that was not destroyed.
Russia has denied responsibility for the attack, but in a television address this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the invasion was "necessary."
Russians "will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and will simply spit them out like a gnat that accidentally flew into their mouths," he said.
The strike is not the first that has targeted civilian sites in the past few days. In the city of Chernihiv, at least 53 people were killed amid heavy Russian attacks, including one on a hostel.
"The city has never known such nightmarish, colossal losses and destruction," said Viacheslav Chaus, governor.
In Merefa, at least 21 people were killed when Russian artillery struck a school and community center.
The U.N. Security Council is expected to meet this week to discuss the crisis.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Silent GOS
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.