FACT CHECK: Does This Photo Show 30,000 Body Bags In Mariupol?

Hannah Hudnall | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook allegedly shows an aerial view of 30,000 body bags containing dead Azov Battalion members in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

Verdict: False

The photo shows a line of people waiting for food and supplies in Mariupol. There is no evidence to suggest 30,000 Azov members have been killed.

Fact Check:

The mayor of Mariupol, a besieged Ukrainian port city, claims that more than 10,000 civilians have been killed in the Russian attack on the city, according to the Associated Press. The city, and the Ukrainian forces defending it, have been surrounded and bombarded by Russian forces for weeks, Reuters reported.

One image shared on Facebook claims to show the deadly results of the Russian siege. It shows what appears to be a satellite image of a parking lot where hundreds of small, black objects are visible. “30k+ Azov body bags in Mariupol,” the post’s caption claims. (RELATED: Does This Video Show A Ukrainian Person Smoking A Cigarette In Body Bag?)

The Azov Battalion, comprised of an estimated 900 members, is a “far-right all-volunteer infantry military unit whose members… are ultra-nationalists and accused of harbouring neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideology,” according to Al-Jazeera. Members of the battalion are defending Mariupol, BBC News reported.

The photo shared on Facebook does not show body bags. A reverse image search revealed the satellite image was captured by Maxar Technologies, a Colorado-based space technology and intelligence company, according to its website. The image has been shared by numerous media outlets, including Space.com, NBC News and The New York Times, all of which state it shows scores of Ukrainians lined up outside a supermarket in Mariupol waiting for food and supplies.

“That image shows people waiting in line for food and supplies outside of the Metro grocery store in Mariupol, Ukraine,” said a Maxar Technologies spokesperson in an email to Check Your Fact.

Other images from Maxar show the range of devastation in the city as the siege continued, Axios reported. There are no credible news reports about the Azov Battalion suffering 30,000 losses.

UPDATE: This piece has been updated to include the comment from Maxar Technologies. 


Hannah Hudnall

Fact Check Reporter