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Mass grave in Ukraine seen from space (satellite photos)

Maxar Technologies' WorldView-3 satellite captured this image of a mass grave (top center) in the Ukrainian town of Bucha on March 31, 2022.
Maxar Technologies' WorldView-3 satellite captured this image of a mass grave (top center) in the Ukrainian town of Bucha on March 31, 2022. (Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

A mass grave in the Ukrainian town of Bucha has been spotted from space.

Maxar Technologies' WorldView-3 satellite snapped photos of the mass grave, on the grounds of the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints, on March 31. The grave site includes a trench about 45 feet (14 meters) long, company representatives said in an emailed statement.

Local residents and the Kyiv Regional Police — Bucha is not far from the Ukrainian capital — said they believe at least 150 people are interred in the makeshift grave, CNN reported (opens in new tab). And Bucha's mayor said the number could be twice that high, according to CNN, which stressed that it could not independently verify either figure.

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This image, captured by Maxar Technologies' WorldView-3 satellite on March 10, 2022, shows the initial excavation of a mass grave (center right) in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

This image, captured by Maxar Technologies' WorldView-3 satellite on March 10, 2022, shows the initial excavation of a mass grave (center right) in the Ukrainian town of Bucha. (Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

Bucha residents said that excavation of the mass grave began not long after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, CNN reported. A second newly released WorldView-3 photo shows some initial digging work being done in the churchyard on March 10.

The scale and scope of the devastation in Bucha, Kyiv and other towns and cities in northern Ukraine are just now coming to light as Russian forces retreat from the region. Bucha was hit particularly hard; Ukrainians coming back into the town "are finding scores of bodies in yards and on the roads amid mounting evidence of intentional and indiscriminate killings of civilians" by Russian soldiers, The New York Times wrote (opens in new tab)

Such scenes have outraged many people around the world and spurred talk of tougher punishments against Russia for the invasion of Ukraine, which is ongoing.

"Appalled by atrocities of Russian army in #Bucha & other liberated areas. This is cold reality of Putin’s war crimes. World must be aware of what is happening. Tougher sanctions must be imposed. Perpetrators & their commanders must be brought to justice," Roberta Metsola, the president of the European Parliament, said via Twitter on Sunday (opens in new tab) (April 3).

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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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.