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Mass grave near besieged Ukrainian city Mariupol spotted from space (satellite photos)

This photo, taken by Maxar Technologies' GeoEye-1 satellite on April 3, 2022, shows a newly excavated mass grave (the rows near the center top, just under the road) in the Ukrainian town of Manhush, which is close to the besieged port city Mariupol.
This photo, taken by Maxar Technologies' GeoEye-1 satellite on April 3, 2022, shows a newly excavated mass grave (the rows near the center top, just under the road) in the Ukrainian town of Manhush, which is close to the besieged port city Mariupol. (Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

Satellites have spotted another mass grave in Ukraine. 

Earlier this month, Virginia-based company Maxar Technologies released satellite photos of a newly excavated mass grave in the town of Bucha, which is near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. Now, Maxar satellites have spotted another big, makeshift burial ground, this time in the town of Manhush, which is about 12 miles (20 kilometers) west of the battered city of Mariupol.

Russian forces have been besieging Mariupol, a strategically important southern port city, pretty much since the invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24. The attack has killed more than 10,000 civilians (opens in new tab) in Mariupol, its mayor said recently, and the death toll is likely to keep rising.

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This photo, taken on March 19, 2022, by Maxar Technologies' WorldView-3 satellite, shows the early excavation of the mass grave in Manhush, Ukraine, which is next to a previously existing cemetery (center right).

This photo, taken on March 19, 2022, by Maxar Technologies' WorldView-3 satellite, shows early excavation of the mass grave in Manhush, Ukraine. The mass grave is next to a previously existing cemetery (center right). (Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

The newly released satellite photos pinpoint a likely resting place for several hundred of the dead. 

"According to recent media reports, Russian soldiers have been taking the bodies of people killed in Mariupol to this location," Maxar representatives said in an emailed statement, referring to the Manhush mass grave. 

"A review of our satellite images from mid-March through mid-April indicate[s] that the expansion of the new set of graves began between March 23-26, 2022, and has continued to expand over the past couple of weeks," they added. "The graves are aligned in four sections of linear rows (measuring approximately 85 meters [260 feet] per section) and contain more than 200 new graves."

As the new photos show, satellites have been helping analysts, government officials and aid workers monitor the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and its impacts. Many of these eyes in the sky are operated by private companies such as Maxar, BlackSky and Planet, which have made much of their Ukraine imagery freely available.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There (opens in new tab)" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).  

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com (opens in new tab) and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.