Mariupol mayor says three mass graves around the city, claiming that locals are forced to work on the site

A satellite image shows the expansion of new graves in a cemetery in Vynohradne, near Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 29.
A satellite image shows the expansion of new graves in a cemetery in Vynohradne, near Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 29. (Maxar Technologies / Reuters)

A third mass grave has been found near Mariupol, the mayor of the besieged southeastern city told Ukrainian television on Tuesday.

In addition to mass graves unveiled in the villages of Mangush and Vynohradne, “now we see that there is another,” said Vadym Boichenko.

New satellite images have shown a mass grave near the village of Staryi Krym, according to the city authorities’ Telegram channel.

The photos showed excavated trenches on the territory of the old Crimean cemetery, the city council said on Telegram.

They appeared on March 24 after the village had been occupied by the Russians and they were about 60 to 70 meters long, the council said.

By April 7, according to new photos, part of the trenches had been covered, the council said, and the grave area had grown.

“New trenches were registered on April 24. The length of the mass grave has increased to more than 200 meters,” it said.

Boichenko accused Russian forces of involving the local population in mass burials in exchange for food.

“The [the locals] told us that one has to work ‘hours’ to get food and water. “Now there is not enough humanitarian aid in Mariupol, so people are forced to do so,” he told Telegram.

CNN is unable to confirm the city’s report on the mass graves. The images, from Planet Labs, were first reported by Radio Free Europe (RFE / RL) on Monday.

CNN has reviewed satellite images that allegedly show mass graves at Vynohradne, but it is unclear beyond the earth’s disturbance what may have happened there.

Last week, Ukrainian officials identified the location of mass graves at Manhush near Mariupol following the release of satellite images collected by and analyzed by Maxar Technologies.

Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to Mayor Mariupol, wrote about the mass grave at Manhush on Telegram on Thursday.

“As a result of a lengthy search and identification of sites for the mass burial of dead Mariupol residents, we have established that the dead Mariupol residents have been arranged and mass-buried in the village of Manhush,” he wrote.

Andriushchenko – who is not in Mariupol but has served as a clearinghouse for information from inside the besieged city – said Russian forces had dug several mass graves, each about 30 meters (about 100 feet), in Manhush, a city about 12 miles (20 kilometers) west of Mariupol.

On Tuesday, Boichenko reiterated that about 20,000 residents of Mariupol had died since the beginning of the invasion.

“The situation in Mariupol remains extremely difficult,” he said. “Enemy artillery shells our fortress Azovstal,” the steelworks in which Ukrainian troops and civilians are trapped.

“There are women and children inside. Ceasefire is needed to begin the evacuation. Unfortunately, there is no ceasefire,” Boichenko said. “People are running out of food, there is almost no drinking water. It is a humanitarian disaster.”

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