A 6-year-old Ukrainian girl died from dehydration after being trapped in the rubble of an airstrike that blew apart her mom, heartbroken officials announced Tuesday.
“I have no words today,” Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said on the city’s Telegram channel as he announced the tragic death of a little girl named Tanya.
Rescuers pulled the child’s body from the rubble of her home after “her mother blew to pieces from a Russians shelling,” he said.
“We cannot imagine how much suffering an innocent child had to endure,” Boychenko wrote, saying authorities have no way of knowing “how long our little, strong Mariupol citizen has been fighting for her life.
“In the last minutes of her life she was alone, exhausted, frightened, terribly thirsty,” he said.
“This is just one of the many stories of Mariupol, which has been surviving a blockade for eight days,” he said of the port city that has continued to be bombarded despite promises of a cease-fire to allow evacuations.
An estimated 200,000 people — nearly half Mariupol’s population of 430,000 — want to flee, just to come under further attack on what was supposed to be a “humanitarian corridor” out, Ukraine’s parliament said Tuesday.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed “credible reports of civilians coming under fire as they try to evacuate,” calling it “totally unacceptable” and amounting to a “war crime.”
The mayor estimated a half-million citizens remained trapped in the ruins of what’s left of their city with scarce supplies of water, electricity, heat and methods to communicate with the outside world.
“Because of these villains, our Mariupol fell into the trap of a humanitarian catastrophe,” he wrote.
Boychenko again called for the city to be “unblocked” with a “humanitarian corridor” to allow safe evacuation, and asked “the world community … to close the sky over Ukraine.
“It will not bring back our dear Tanya, but it will protect thousands of children’s lives in Ukraine,” the mayor wrote.
Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also noted Tanya’s death, saying, “War crimes are part of Russia’s deliberate strategy.
“I urge all states to publicly demand: RUSSIA, LET PEOPLE GO!” he tweeted.
As of Tuesday, the UN human-rights office had confirmed the deaths of at least 474 civilians, including at least 29 children.
It stressed that the tally is likely far higher, and Ukraine on Tuesday said that at least 38 kids were among those killed, with more than 70 other children injured.
So far, more than 2 million people have fled the war-torn nation, the United Nations said, making it the fastest exodus Europe has seen since World War II.