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Fields Of Heartbreak: Inside Mariupol's New Cemetery Grounds

New images from a massively expanded cemetery in Mariupol capture the individual tragedies caused by the Russian invasion.


1. Iryna Orfinyak at the grave of her granddaughter, Veronika, in the Starokrymske cemetery in the northwest of Mariupol on November 9. The child was killed alongside her father when a mortar round landed among a huddle of people cooking outside during the Russian siege of the city.


2, Orfinyak at her granddaughter’s grave.


According to Orfinyak, 10 people were killed in the mortar explosion, including three children. Veronika, “was thrown against the entrance door. She was wounded and died while we were taking her to the hospital,” the bereaved grandmother told Reuters, adding, “our son was killed immediately."


3. Rows of new graves in the Starokrymske cemetery photographed in May.


The cemetery was massively expanded following the Russian takeover of the city, largely with graves marked only with a number.


4. People visit a grave in the Mariupol cemetery on November 9.


Tens of thousands of people are believed to have diedduring the nearly three-month-long siege of the city, during which civilians lived without power or water under nearly constant bombardment.


5. More than 4,600 graves are reported to have been dug at the Starokrymske cemetery since the Kremlin launched its invasion on February 24.


6. Gravediggers lower a simple wooden coffin into the ground in the Starokrymske cemetery in May.


After the siege ended, satellite images showed the Mariupol cemetery rapidly expanding even months later, supposedly as bodies were recovered from the ruins of buildings in the Ukrainian port city.


7. Workers at the site of a collapsed apartment block in Mariupol on November 9.


According to a Ukrainian official, the bodies of 200 people were found in the basement of one collapsed apartment block in Mariupol. Many people lived in basements during the siege to shelter from shrapnel and bullets.


8. A girl next to a grave dug alongside a road during the siege of Mariupol in April.


Some of those buried in Mariupol’s parks and green spaces have also been reburied in the Starokrymske cemetery.


9. Grave markers listing 2022 as the year of death in the Starokrymske cemetery on November 9.

Albert Nosov, a Mariupol local visiting the cemetery on that day, told Reuters that he had come to see the grave of his disabled son, Valeriy, who died of hypothermia during the siege. "There was no water, no heat, nothing. We couldn't take proper care of him," the 85-year-old said. "He was first buried right next to our apartment building -- there was fighting going on -- and later he was reburied here.”


 

(c) Radio Free Europe 2022

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