LVIV, Ukraine — At least 2,187 people in the coastal city of Mariupol have died since the start of the war, Ukraine’s government said Sunday, as the International Committee of the Red Cross warned that time was running out for hundreds of thousands of civilians still trapped in the besieged city.
The New York Times and third-party aid organizations have not independently verified that figure, as the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in the city of 400,000 has been largely shielded from public view as internet and cellular communication have been severed and humanitarian corridors cut off.
A Russian bomb destroyed the city’s main emergency services building over the weekend, cutting one of the last remaining links to the outside world.
For days, President Volodomyr Zelensky has called for a cease-fire to allow a convoy of desperately needed relief to enter Mariupol, which is being furiously defended by Ukrainian forces against unrelenting Russian assaults.
Russian forces encircled the city nearly two weeks ago and have been trying to pummel it into submission ever since. The local City Council estimated Sunday that at least 100 bombs have been dropped on Mariupol since the start of the war, with 22 falling in just the last 24 hours.
Eyewitnesses who have managed to communicate to the outside world describe a hellish landscape, with dead bodies on the streets, little food or clean water and no medicine. The only thing that draws people from their basements and bomb shelters aside from scrounging for food and wood for fires is the daily hope that they will be able to be evacuated.
Each day for the past week, those hopes have been dashed and there was no indication that Sunday was any different.
As night fell, it appeared that ongoing fighting had once again kept relief from arriving. “This needs to stop now,” Peter Maurer, the I.C.R.C. president, said in a statement Sunday evening.
“The human suffering is simply immense,” the Red Cross statement added. “History will look back at what is now happening in Mariupol with horror if no agreement is reached by the sides as quickly as possible,” it said.
Marc Santora reported from Lviv, Ukraine, and Nick Cumming-Bruce from Geneva.