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Live Updates: Russo-Ukrainian War – The New York Times


Credit…Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

BUCHA, Ukraine – On Sunday, Ukrainians in the town of Bucha, Ukraine, were still finding dead bodies in yards and on roads amid mounting evidence of executions and indiscriminate killings of civilians by Russian forces before their retreat.

Serhiy Kaplishny is a coroner in Bucha who worked there from February 24, the day of the invasion, until March 10, then returned on Saturday. He said his team recovered more than 100 bodies during and after the fighting and the Russian occupation.

Before leaving town in March, he said, he had arranged for a local digger operator to dig a mass grave in the yard of an Orthodox church. Without electricity for refrigeration, the morgue had become unusable and another solution was needed. “It was a horror,” he said.

After he left, the mass grave was filled with around 40 bodies, he said, of people who died during the Russian occupation. Local coroners from his office who had remained in the city had recovered some of those bodies, he said.

During a Sunday visit to the mass grave – around a dozen meters long and two meters wide – a pile of excavated earth lay nearby to pile on top of bodies. In one corner, two pairs of shoes and an arm protruded from a thin layer of dirt, and in another, a hand protruded. Along with the pile, half a dozen black body bags had been dumped into the pit.

Mr Kaplishny said that before leaving Bucha – as fighting raged and the Russian military established control – he had buried 57 bodies in a cemetery, 15 of which had died of natural causes. The others died of gunshot wounds, including point-blank shots fired during executions, or shrapnel. Three of those bodies were Ukrainian soldiers, he said.

On Sunday, after returning to town, he said he picked up around 30 bodies in a white van. Thirteen of them were men who had their hands tied and had been shot in the head. He said he did not know the circumstances of their deaths but believed, based on their apparently recent deaths, that they were prisoners killed before the withdrawal of the Russian army.

“They were civilians,” Mr Kaplishny said, showing mobile phone photos of the bodies of men in civilian clothes with their hands tied behind their backs and in one case in front.

In the footage, eight bodies with their hands tied lay in the yard of a house and five in a basement, he said. “Look, that one was shot in the eye,” Mr Kaplishny said.

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