A municipal swimming pool in the besieged Ukrainian town of Mariupol was hit by a Russian military strike on Wednesday, multiple media sources have reported. CNN has confirmed the reports and location of the pool.
Civilians had taken shelter in the pool amid another day of attacks by Russia. The strategically-important port city has more than 400,000 residents in peacetime. The city has been without power or water for weeks, and several attempts to create a safe evacuation corridor have failed.
The city has been home to some of the most devastating images of the war so far, including bombing of a hospital and a theater where hundreds of people took shelter. Ukrainian officials are saying that the targeting of civilians by Russian military forces has been intentional.
While official counts have been difficult as fighting has been ongoing, an advisor to the city’s mayor said on Tuesday that up to 20,000 may have been killed there, with many more likely deaths since then.
The pool building that was bombed houses the Neptune Pool. The pool was recently under reconstruction with plans for the facility to become a training base for the country’s Paralympians. Ukraine is home to one of the most successful Paralympic teams in the world. At the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Ukraine won 14 gold and 43 total medals in swimming, which ranked them 4th and 3rd, respectively, among medal-winners.
A shelter in #Mariupol was hit by a Russian air bomb today, the Neptune pool served as a shelter for pregnant women and mothers with children under 3 years old. #UkraineUnderAttack pic.twitter.com/KA0m475MuF
— MI6 ROGUE 🇺🇦 (@mi6rogue) March 16, 2022
According to Maxim Kach, a local city government official, there were no military personnel at, or near, the pool.
The pool is about 2.5 miles away from the theater that was bombed.
Previous images have shown significant damage to the Ukrainian Olympic Pool in Kharkiv. Many of the country’s top aquatic athletes have been evacuated to training sites in other countries, most substantially in Italy and Hungary.