Ukrainian human rights ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova confirmed the figures in a televised address Friday, but said roughly 1,300 people remain trapped under the wreckage.
She added that rescue work was ongoing at the site, where many people were sheltering underground before the building was hit, according to the Ukrainian authorities.
Rescue workers began searching for survivors in the rubble on Thursday. Mariupol, a port city, is encircled by Russian forces and has seen fierce bombardment.
An earlier statement from the city council said about 30,000 residents had managed to escape so far, but more than 350,000 remained stuck there.
“The heart is breaking from what Russia does to our people, our Mariupol, and our Donetsk region,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an address on Wednesday, after referring to the theatre attack.
The city council said hundreds of people, mostly women, children and the elderly, were hiding in the theatre and a nearby swimming pool building because of heavy shelling.
Russia has denied bombing the theatre.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that the allegation that Russia had bombed the theatre was a “lie,” and repeated Kremlin denials that Russian forces have targeted civilians since the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
Satellite images of the theatre taken on Monday, before it was struck, show a large structure with a red roof and the Russian word for “children” painted in large white letters on the tarmac at the front and back.
Mariupol council said the physical damage to the city had been “enormous.” It estimated that around 80 per cent of the city’s homes had been destroyed, of which almost 30 per cent was beyond repair.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called for the two sides on Thursday to let people leave Mariupol safely and to allow aid in.
Up to 40 ICRC staff and their families had to flee the port along with other civilians on Wednesday, because they had “no operational capacity anymore,” the organization’s head Peter Maurer told a news conference.
Russia calls its invasion of Ukraine a “special operation” that it says is not designed to occupy territory, but to destroy its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.
Kyiv and its western allies have said this is a baseless pretext to invade a country of 44 million people to topple its government, which Putin regards as a puppet of the United States.
However, after four weeks of war, the invasion hasn’t gone as planned for Putin, who has seen his troops run into stiff Ukrainian resistance and stall on several fronts.
— with files from Reuters.
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