An outbreak of water-borne diseases caused in part by dead bodies contaminating wells could kill thousands more people in the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol, Ukraine, the city’s mayor warned Friday.
“This is unfortunately the assessment of our doctors: that the war which took over 20,000 residents… unfortunately, with these infection outbreaks, will claim thousands more Mariupolites,” Mayor Vadym Boychenko said on Ukrainian television, Reuters reported.
Speaking to the BBC, Boychenko said that “cholera, dysentery, and other infectious diseases are already in the city.”
The concern is shared by British officials.
In an intelligence assessment released Friday, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense said medical services in the port city “are likely already near collapse” and that “a major cholera outbreak in Mariupol will exacerbate this further,” The Evening Standard reported.
According to the World Health Organization, the ingestion of water contaminated with cholera “can kill within hours if left untreated.” A nine-year outbreak of the virus in Haiti, for example, killed approximately 10,000 people, per the United Nations.
Around 100,000 residents are believed to remain after Russian forces besieged the city for months, destroying much of its infrastructure.