The Associated Press has discovered over 10,000 new graves in Mariupol since March

The Associated Press has discovered over 10,000 new graves in Mariupol since March

Associated Press journalists discovered in Mariupol at least 10.3 thousand graves that appeared in the city after the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation into Ukraine. Each of them can have several bodies.

In the investigation, the journalists used satellite images, hundreds of videos from drones and from the ground, as well as interviews with 30 Mariupol residents, 13 of whom remain in the city. Three forensic archaeologists with experience studying mass graves for the investigation of war crimes confirmed that the analysis is adequate to reality in the current conditions.

Most of all – about 8.5 thousand – new graves appeared at the Starokrymsky cemetery on the outskirts of Mariupol, and under each mound there can be many bodies, journalists say. Mass graves have also appeared in cemeteries in the surrounding villages of Mangush and Vinogradnoe since early March.

The graves are visible as mounds of earth, sometimes with wooden crosses bearing names and dates. But more often, small tablets with handwritten numbers were found near the graves. Some mounds had several of them, which may indicate the number of bodies buried in them.

In addition, there are three trench burials in Mariupol, including one created by the Ukrainians themselves at the beginning of the siege of the city. The journalists also have videos of the Russian military using heavy equipment to dig long trenches, which were then filled in.

Based on conversations with Mariupol residents, journalists say that thousands of bodies did not even end up in the cemetery. Each of the 30 respondents knows someone who died during the siege of Mariupol.

Lidiya Erashova saw her five-year-old son Artyom and seven-year-old niece Angelina die under shelling in March. Their relatives buried them in a makeshift grave in the yard and fled Mariupol. When they returned in July to rebury the children, they learned that their bodies had already been dug up and taken to a warehouse. After identification, their relatives buried them at the Starokrymsky cemetery. Yerashova is currently in Canada.

Back in May, when the city was occupied, local Ukrainian authorities said that at least 25,000 people had died during the siege. Associated Press respondents, citing workers documenting the collection of bodies from the streets for Russian authorities, say the death toll is at least three times higher.

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