About 1,300 people remained trapped in the basement of the theater, Lyudmyla Denisova said. She said it was difficult to be certain of the number of survivors and she declined to confirm the victims.
“We hope they will be alive but at the moment we have no information about them,” she said in an interview on local television.
An aide to the mayor of Mariupol, Vadim Boychenko, declined to comment on the theater rescue effort or provide casualty figures.
Efforts to sort out the wreckage and rescue the survivors are hampered by the fact that the rescue services have been decimated by the attack on the town.
Getting medical attention for the injured could be difficult as “many doctors have been killed,” former governor Sergiy Taruta said in an overnight statement.
Ukrainian civilians sought refuge in the theater as Mariupol was the target of relentless shelling by Russian forces seeking to advance along Ukraine’s southern coast.
Moscow has long coveted Mariupol for its strategic location 35 miles west of the Russian border on the Sea of Azov. The Russian Defense Ministry denied that its forces carried out an airstrike in theatre.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, Russian missiles hit an aircraft repair factory in the west of the country on Friday, hitting a long-range target far from the battlefield as attacks continued on other towns.
The Ukrainian Air Force said six cruise missiles were fired from the Black Sea. Two were intercepted, preventing them from reaching the target near the airport in the western city of Lviv.
A building was destroyed, according to Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi, who said work at the facility had been suspended before the strike. One person was injured and rescuers were on hand to put out the fire, said Maksym Kozytskyi, head of Lviv’s regional military administration.
The attack near Lviv comes less than a week after a Russian airstrike on a Ukrainian military training center in a western area about 16 km from the Polish border. Lviv is about 50 miles from the border. Polish immigration authorities said on Friday that the number of people who have fled Ukraine for Poland has now exceeded two million.
Most of the fighting between the invading Russian forces and Ukrainian troops was concentrated further east and south. In the eastern city of Kramatorsk, at least one missile hit a residential building overnight, killing two people and injuring 16, said Pavlo Kyrlyenko, head of the regional military administration of the eastern Donetsk region.
The thud of artillery exchanges and small arms fire was audible in the outskirts of the capital kyiv overnight. A Russian rocket, believed to have been shot down by Ukrainian Air Defense Forces, landed in a downtown area, injuring half a dozen people who were cut by shards of glass.
Standing near the crater next to burnt buildings, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said one person had been killed and four children were among the injured. “These are the results of this horrible situation,” he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his forces took Russian conscripts prisoner on the battlefield. Russia has made no effort to recover its prisoners of war, he said, and some of them are refusing to return. In his evening speech, Mr. Zelensky said he would not publicly discuss his strategy on the ceasefire talks.
“To work more quietly than on TV, radio or Facebook…I think that’s fair,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday, saying Ukrainian leaders were doing everything possible to delay ceasefire talks by “putting forward increasingly unrealistic proposals”, according to the Kremlin’s account of the phone call.
“Nevertheless, the Russian side is ready to continue the search for solutions in accordance with its well-known principled approaches,” the report said.
The call, which lasted just under an hour, focused on efforts to end the war in Ukraine, according to the German government. During the call, Mr. Scholz stressed the urgency of a ceasefire, an improvement in the humanitarian situation and progress in the search for a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
Mr Zelensky addressed the German parliament on Thursday, his latest in a series of appeals to Western governments for more support, as European countries consider sending more military equipment to kyiv.
In the United States, President Biden is meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Friday in a bid to dissuade Beijing from getting more involved with Moscow in its war effort.
“We believe that China in particular has a responsibility to use its influence (…) to defend the international rules and principles that it claims to support,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday.
“Instead, we fear that China is going in the opposite direction by refusing to condemn this aggression, while seeking to present itself as a neutral arbiter,” Blinken said, adding that the United States feared that Beijing plans to “help Russia directly”. with military equipment for use in Ukraine.
Australia also expanded its sanctions against Russia on Friday to include 11 additional banks and government entities, as well as billionaires Oleg Deripaska and Viktor Vekselberg. Foreign Secretary Marise Payne said the majority of Russia’s banking assets were now covered by sanctions, along with all entities that handle Russia’s sovereign debt.
—Alan Cullison and Evan Gershkovich contributed to this article.
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