In televised comments, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said it had been difficult to calculate the exact number of casualties since street fighting had started.
Boychenko told the Associated Press Monday Russian forces have brought mobile crematoria to the city to dispose of the bodies, and accused Russian forces of refusing to allow humanitarian convoys into the city in an attempt to disguise the carnage.
The mayor had previously claimed 5,000 dead. He explained this data was from March 21, but “thousands more people were lying on the streets, it was just impossible for us to collect them.”
About 120,000 civilians remain in Mariupol in dire need of food, water, warmth and communications, the mayor said Monday.
Boychenko said that about 150,000 people have been able to leave the city in private vehicles for other parts of Ukraine and that at least 33,000 were taken to Russia or to separatist territory in Ukraine.
(Reporting by Max Hunder Writing by Alexander Winning, Editing by William Maclean)
With files from the Associated Press