Photos: Mariupol before the war

·Senior Writer
·3 min read

More than a month into Russia’s war in Ukraine, Mariupol has been left decimated, as shown in photos from the port city that document the large-scale destruction caused by Moscow's ongoing assault.

Before the war, Mariupol was the country’s 10th largest city, with a population of more than 430,000.

Like other cities in Ukraine, it was a bustling modern metropolis filled with arts and culture. The Donetsk Regional Drama Theater, a few blocks north of the Sea of Azov in the city’s center, was one of its many landmarks.

Mariupol, Ukraine, at night.
Mariupol, Ukraine, at night, Dec. 22, 2020. (Mrpl.travel via Wikimedia Commons)
Mariupol, Ukraine, in the daylight.
Mariupol in the daylight, May 1, 2021. (Oleksandr Malyon via Wikimedia Commons)
A view of houses along Peace Avenue in Mariupol, Ukraine.
A view of houses along Peace Avenue, May 1, 2021. (Oleksandr Malyon via Wikimedia Commons)
An aerial view of the theater in Mariupol, Ukraine.
An aerial view of the theater in Mariupol, Sept. 24, 2019. (Лев Сандалов via Wikimedia Commons)
Another view of the drama theater in Mariupol, Ukraine.
Another view of the drama theater, May 1, 2021. (Oleksandr Malyon via Wikimedia Commons)
The theater square in Mariupol, Ukraine.
The theater square, May 2, 2021. (Oleksandr Malyon via Wikimedia Commons)

But constant shelling by Russian forces — upwards of 50 to 100 airstrikes per day by land, air and sea — has forced hundreds of thousands to flee, Ukrainian officials say.

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko recently called for the remaining population, which he estimated to be 160,000 people, to fully evacuate the besieged city. His office said this week that nearly 5,000 of the residents have been killed, including more than 200 children.

Those who have stayed are essentially trapped with no food, no drinking water and no electricity in an apocalyptic hellscape.

Extensive damage from shelling is seen in Mariupol, Ukraine.
Extensive damage from shelling can be seen in Mariupol on March 23. (Maximilian Clarke/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A view of the damage after the bombing of the drama theater in Mariupol, Ukraine.
The damage after the bombing of the drama theater on March 18. (Handout via Reuters)

According to one estimate, 80% to 90% of Mariupol’s buildings have been destroyed in the monthlong siege.

“There is nothing left there,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week. “Only ruins.”

Two weeks ago, the drama theater, which was being used as one of the main shelters in Mariupol, was bombed. Ukrainian officials said Friday that they now believe as many as 300 people may have been killed in the attack.

According to the United Nations, at least 1,189 civilian deaths, including those of more than 100 children, have been confirmed in Ukraine since Feb. 24, when Russia’s military invasion began, though U.N. officials caution that the actual death toll is likely to be much higher.

The conflict has also triggered one of the largest refugee waves in history, with the total number of people fleeing Ukraine approaching 4 million.

A woman walks past a destroyed building as civilians evacuate Mariupol, Ukraine.
A woman walks past a destroyed building as civilians evacuate Mariupol on March 21.(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
People evacuating Mariupol, Ukraine.
People evacuating Mariupol on March 18. (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
People evacuating Mariupol, Ukraine.
People evacuating the city on March 18. (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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