Ukrainian authorities continued to gather the dead after the apparent slaughter of civilians in Kyiv’s northern suburbs Wednesday, as starting photos of a beloved Ukrainian mayor executed alongside her family made her a symbol of Russian cruelty.
Investigators have collected bodies—many with close-range gunshot wounds or severe burns, several with their hands still bound—throughout Bucha, where the dead have been found in mass graves and strewn across the city streets.
Photos from Bucha on Wednesday showed dozens of body bags in a local cemetery, as police began to identify the dead before sending them on to area morgues.
Dead civilians, clad in jeans and winter coats, wearing sneakers, could be seen through the open zippers of a handful of body bags as police went about their work.
Over 60 bodies have been collected in Bucha over the past day.
In Motyzhyn, 30 miles west of Kyiv, residents still grappled with the death of mayor Olha Sukhenko, who was discovered in a shallow grave two days ago beside the bodies of her husband, Ihor, and their 25-year-old son, Oleksander.
Harrowing photos showed the bodies of the family, contorted in death, buried alongside another unidentified Ukrainian.
“Those are my relatives in that pit,” Ihor Radchenko, the Sukhenkos’ son-in-law, told the Wall Street Journal Monday as authorities worked to exhume the bodies. “Why were they killed? Because they were Ukrainians.”
Motyzhyn residents told the paper that Sukhenko had been instrumental to the town’s resilience during its month-long occupation.
She helped bring food and medicine to those in need, and was part of a resistance effort to report Russian troop movements back to Kyiv, Ukrainian officials said.
“She was the best person until her last minute, Mykola Kurach, a local leader in the volunteer defense force, told the paper.
In Makariv, a few miles northwest of Motyzhyn, officials said they’d found 20 bodies in and around the town.
Rescue workers in Borodyanka, where Ukrainian citizens reportedly held off a Russian advance last month, said they were looking for bodies in the rubble of destroyed apartment buildings.
In light of the gruesome trail left behind by retreating Russian troops in the north, Ukrainian officials urged civilians to evacuate from the east, where Kremlin forces are expected to advance.
Officials in Sloviansk, a city in the Donetsk oblast to the east, said Wednesday that local bank branches were shutting down, as were postal and pension operations.
Authorities in the eastern Luhansk oblast also urged civilians to evacuate westward, as Russian shelling struck high-rise buildings in the city of Severodonetsk.
With post wires