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Besieged Ukraine city of Mariupol buries dead in mass grave

March 9, 2022 GMT
Dead bodies are placed into a mass grave on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022 as people cannot bury their dead because of the heavy shelling by Russian forces. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Dead bodies are placed into a mass grave on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022 as people cannot bury their dead because of the heavy shelling by Russian forces. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Dead bodies are placed into a mass grave on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022 as people cannot bury their dead because of the heavy shelling by Russian forces. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
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Dead bodies are placed into a mass grave on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022 as people cannot bury their dead because of the heavy shelling by Russian forces. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
1 of 9
Dead bodies are placed into a mass grave on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022 as people cannot bury their dead because of the heavy shelling by Russian forces. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

MARIUPOL, Ukraine (AP) — Under steady Russian bombardment, workers in Ukraine’s besieged southern port city of Mariupol are hastily and unceremoniously burying scores of dead Ukrainian civilians and soldiers in a mass grave.

With morgues overflowing and more corpses uncollected in homes, city officials decided they could not wait to hold individual burials.

A deep trench about 25 meters (27 yards) long dug in an old cemetery in the heart of the city is filling up with bodies collected by municipal social service workers from morgues and private homes.

Some are brought wrapped in carpets or plastic bags. Forty came Tuesday, another 30 so far Wednesday. They include civilian victims of shelling on the city and soldiers, as well as civilians who died of disease or natural causes.

Other city workers are also bringing bodies so the numbers being buried are quickly rising and the total in the long grave is now unclear.

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Workers quickly make the sign of the cross after pushing the bodies into the common grave. No family members or other mourners are present to say their goodbyes.

The work is carried out efficiently, and unceremoniously, as a result of the ever-present danger. Shells landed in the cemetery itself Tuesday, interrupting the burials and damaging a wall.

The city plans to close this grave Thursday, if the bombardments stop long enough to allow workers to do so.

At the gates of the cemetery, a woman asked if her mother is among those buried in the trench. She said she had left her body three days before outside the morgue, with a paper label stating her name attached. Her mother was buried there, the workers told the woman, who declined to give her name.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the war between Russia and Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine