Ukraine: Italy ready to rebuild bombed Mariupol Theatre

Zelensky thanks Italian culture minister for setting 'good example'.

The Italian government has offered to rebuild a theatre in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol which was destroyed in a bomb attack earlier this week, culture minister Dario Franceschini said on Thursday.

Writing on Twitter, Franceschini said the Italian cabinet of ministers had approved his proposal to "offer Ukraine the resources and means" to rebuild the theatre as soon as possible.

The Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the culture minister, replying on Twitter: "You set a good example to follow. Together we will rebuild the country to the last brick."

Ukraine says Russia was responsible for bombing the theatre in the besieged coastal city but Moscow denies any involvement.

There were reportedly up to 1,000 people, including children, taking shelter from bombardments in the theatre's basement when the building was hit in an air strike.

Dozens of survivors were reportedly pulled out alive from the rubble on Thursday.

The neoclassical theatre, whose official name is the Donetsk Region Academic Theatre of Drama, was inaugurated in 1960, replacing a previous 19th-century building.

In recent years the theatre has hosted performances by Tolstoy, Pushkin, Moliere, Chekhov and Shakespeare, as well as more contemporary works, reports Italian state broadcaster RAI News.