Ukraine War: Mariupol officials fear cholera outbreak from infected water supply could kill thousands

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Officials in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol fear the worst for its residents as cholera and other diseases have been detected in the city, while corpses and rubble continue to line the streets.

Mayor Vadym Boichenko said the war-torn city’s water supply had been infected, potentially by the bodies of the deceased, causing an uncertain number of people to show symptoms.

“There is an epidemic of dysentery and cholera,” he said on Friday, as around 100,000 people remain in the city after Russia conquered the city last month, Sky News reported.

People board an evacuation train at the train station in Pokrovsk, eastern Ukraine, Friday, June 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
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People board an evacuation train at the train station in Pokrovsk, eastern Ukraine, Friday, June 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Cholera is a diarrheal disease that is often spread by people who drink contaminated food and water.

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Boichenko fears that the epidemic will soon be deadly.

FILE - Smoke rises from the Azovstal metallurgical complex in Mariupol during a shelling, in Mariupol, territory under the government of the Donetsk People's Republic, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, May 7, 2022 (AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov, File)

FILE – Smoke rises from the Azovstal metallurgical complex in Mariupol during a shelling, in Mariupol, territory under the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, May 7, 2022 (AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov, File)
(AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov, File)

“It is, unfortunately, the assessment of our doctors: that the war which took away more than 20,000 inhabitants … unfortunately, with these outbreaks of infection, will make thousands more Mariupolites,” said the Ukrainian mayor, according to SkyNews.

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According to the report, Boichenko resides outside the city after it fell under Russian control.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense agreed with the mayor, saying in a Friday morning update that the town was at risk of a “major” cholera outbreak.

“Russia is struggling to provide basic public services to the population of Russian-occupied territories. Access to drinking water has been inconsistent, while major disruptions to telephone and internet services continue,” says the update. There is likely a severe shortage of medicine in Kherson, while Mariupol risks a major cholera outbreak. Isolated cases of cholera have been reported since May. »

The ministry said Ukraine had experienced a major cholera outbreak in 1995 and other minor ones since, particularly along the coast of Azov, where Mariupol is located.

He added: “Medical services in Mariupol are probably already on the verge of collapse: a major cholera outbreak in Mariupol will further aggravate the situation.”

A Ukrainian tank rolls through the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, June 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

A Ukrainian tank rolls through the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, June 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

International health officials at the UN have not verified the mayor’s comments, but World Health Organization epidemiologist Dr Margaret Harris previously predicted the diseases could spread across the country. city ​​from areas “where water and sewage pipes have been destroyed by weeks of shelling”, according to the report.

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About 400,000 people lived in Mariupol before the Ukraine-Russia war. More than 5,000 civilians were killed in Mariupol.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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