Most of the graves can be seen at Staryi Krym Cemetery. The AP analyzed satellite images from the beginning of March to December and looked for areas where soil had been moved.
The Associated Press calculated that the cemetery expanded with new graves equivalent to an area of 51,500 square meters in less than ten months.
Drone recordings and video recordings also show how the Russians, using large excavators, dug long trenches that served as mass graves and then filled them with dirt.
The graves appear as mounds of earth, sometimes marked with wooden crosses with names and dates. However, most of them are marked with only handwritten numbers on small stickers.
A few graves are marked with more than one number, indicating that many people were buried there.
The AP also estimated that there is, on average, one grave for every six square metres. The calculations were also carried out in two small adjacent cemeteries in the villages of Mangosh and Vinohradni, where similar mass graves had been discovered since March.
A mass grave dug by the Ukrainians during the siege was also found.
Unknown cause of death
Three forensic archaeologists with experience investigating mass graves for war crimes confirmed that the AP analysis is sound, based on the limited information available and the inability to access the graves.
However, Roland Wessing, who has helped excavate mass graves in Bosnia, Croatia and Iraq, says the number of graves does not necessarily correspond to the number of Ukrainians killed.
Image analysis cannot determine how people died in the graves.
International forensic experts who have been involved in exhuming mass graves in other parts of Ukraine often find the remains of several people in the same grave. Many of the bodies here showed obvious signs of a violent death, such as blast injuries and gunshot wounds. Many of them had their hands tied with a rope.
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