Airstrike hits maternity hospital in Ukraine, 17 injured reported


MARIUPOL, Ukraine (AP) — A Russian airstrike on Wednesday devastated a maternity hospital in the beleaguered port city of Mariupol amid growing warnings from the West that the invasion of Moscow is about to take a more brutal turn and blind.

MARIUPOL, Ukraine (AP) — A Russian airstrike on Wednesday devastated a maternity hospital in the beleaguered port city of Mariupol amid growing warnings from the West that the invasion of Moscow is about to take a more brutal turn and blind. Ukrainian officials said the attack injured at least 17 people.

The ground shook for more than a kilometer as the Mariupol complex was hit by a series of explosions that blew out windows and ripped much of a building’s facade. Police and soldiers rushed to the scene to evacuate victims, carrying a heavily pregnant and bleeding woman on a stretcher as light snow fell on burning and mangled cars and trees shattered by the blast.

Another woman groaned as she hugged her child. In the courtyard, a blast crater was at least two stories deep.

“Today Russia committed a huge crime,” said Volodymir Nikulin, a senior regional police official, standing in the ruins. “It’s a war crime without any justification.”

In Zhytomyr, a city of 260,000 people west of Kiev, bombs fell on two hospitals, including a children’s hospital, Mayor Serhii Sukhomlyn said on Facebook. No one was injured, he said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the strike in Mariupol had trapped children and others under the rubble.

“A children’s hospital. A motherhood. How did they threaten the Russian Federation? Zelenskyy asked in his nightly video address, switching to Russian to express his horror at the airstrike. “What kind of country is it, the Russian Federation, which is afraid of hospitals, afraid of maternity wards, and destroys them?”

He urged the West to impose even tougher sanctions, so that Russia “would have no further possibility of continuing this genocide”.

The video shared by Zelenskyy showed cheerfully painted hallways strewn with twisted metal.

“There are few things more depraved than targeting the vulnerable and helpless,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin will be held “to account for his terrible crimes.”

The World Health Organization said it had confirmed 18 attacks on health facilities and ambulances since the fighting began, killing 10 people. It was not clear if this number included the assault on maternity.

US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken condemned Russia’s “unacceptable attacks” during a call with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, the State Department said.

Two weeks into Russia’s assault on Ukraine, its army is struggling more than expected, but Putin’s invasion force of more than 150,000 troops retains perhaps insurmountable advantages in power of fire as it descends on key cities.

Despite often heavy shelling of populated areas, US military officials reported little change on the ground in the past 24 hours, other than Russian progress on the cities of Kharkiv and Mykolaiv. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to assess the overall military situation.

Authorities have announced new ceasefires to allow thousands of civilians to flee bombed towns. Zelenskyy said three humanitarian corridors were operating on Wednesday, from Sumy in the northeast near the Russian border, from the outskirts of Kiev and from Enerhodar, the southern city where Russian forces took control of a major nuclear power plant. .

In total, he said, about 35,000 people came out. Further evacuations were scheduled for Thursday.

People fled Kyiv’s suburbs, many headed for the city center, as explosions rumbled across the capital and air raid sirens sounded repeatedly. From there, the evacuees planned to board trains bound for unattacked areas of western Ukraine.

Civilians leaving the Kyiv suburb of Irpin have been forced to cross the slippery wooden planks of a makeshift bridge as the Ukrainians blew up the concrete span leading into Kyiv days ago to slow the Russian advance .

With sporadic gunfire echoing behind them, firefighters dragged an elderly man to safety in a wheelbarrow, a child grabbed the hand of a helping soldier and a woman cradled her way, cradling a fluffy cat in his winter coat. They trudged past a wrecked van with the words “Our Ukraine” written in the dust covering its windows.

“We have a short window of time at the moment,” said Yevhen Nyshchuk, a member of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces. “Even though there is a ceasefire right now, there is a high risk of shells falling at any time.”

Previous attempts to establish safe evacuation corridors in recent days have largely failed due to what Ukrainians have described as Russian attacks. But Putin, in a phone call with the German Chancellor, accused Ukrainian nationalist activists of obstructing evacuations.

In Mariupol, a strategic city of 430,000 inhabitants on the Sea of ​​Azov, the local authorities hastened to bury the dead from the last two weeks of fighting in a mass grave. City workers dug a trench about 25 meters (yards) long in one of the city’s ancient cemeteries and made the sign of the cross as they pushed bodies wrapped in mats or sacks through- over the edge.

About 1,200 people died during the nine-day siege of the city, Zelenskyy’s office said.

Across the country, thousands of people are believed to have been killed, both civilians and soldiers, since Putin’s forces invaded. The UN estimates that more than 2 million people have fled the country, the largest refugee exodus in Europe since the end of World War II.

The fighting has cut power to the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant, sparking fears over spent radioactive fuel which is stored at the site and must be kept cool. But the United Nations nuclear watchdog said it saw “no critical security impact” from the loss of power.

The crisis is likely to deepen as forces in Moscow step up their bombardment of cities in response to what appears to be stronger Ukrainian resistance and heavier-than-expected Russian casualties.

Echoing the CIA director’s remarks a day earlier, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Russia’s assault would become “more brutal and indiscriminate” as Putin tries to regain momentum.

The Biden administration has warned that Russia may seek to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, dismissing Russian allegations of illegal chemical weapons development in the country it invaded.

This week, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova – without evidence – accused Ukraine of running chemical and biological weapons labs with US support. White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the claim “absurd” and said it could be part of an attempt by Russia to lay the groundwork for its own use of such weapons against the ‘Ukraine.

The British Ministry of Defense said fighting was continuing northwest of Kiev. Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol were heavily shelled and remained surrounded by Russian forces.

Russian forces are placing military equipment in farms and amid residential buildings in the northern city of Chernihiv, the Ukrainian military said. In the south, plainclothes Russians are advancing towards the city of Mykolaiv, a Black Sea shipbuilding center of half a million people, he added.

The Ukrainian army, meanwhile, is building defenses in northern, southern and eastern cities, and forces around Kiev are “holding the line” against the Russian offensive, authorities said.

On Wednesday, some of the Ukrainian volunteer fighters trained in a Kiev park with rocket launchers.

“I only have one son,” said Mykola Matulevskiy, a 64-year-old retired martial arts trainer, who was with his son, Kostyantin. “Everything is my son.”

But now they will fight together: “It is not possible to have it any other way because it is our homeland. Above all, we must defend our homeland.

In Irpin, a town of 60,000 people, police and soldiers helped elderly people leave their homes. One man was hoisted out of a damaged structure on a makeshift stretcher, while another was pushed towards Kiev in a shopping trolley. Fleeing residents said they had been without power and water for the past four days.

Regional administration head Oleksiy Kuleba said the crisis for civilians was deepening in and around Kyiv, with the situation particularly dire in the suburbs.

The situation is even worse in Mariupol, where efforts to evacuate residents and deliver much-needed food, water and medicine failed on Tuesday due to what Ukrainians said continued Russian attacks.

The city took advantage of a lull in bombardment on Wednesday to hastily bury 70 people. Some were soldiers, but most were civilians.

The work was carried out efficiently and without ceremony. No mourners were present, no family to say goodbye.

A woman stood at the gates of the cemetery asking if her mother was among those buried. She was.


Associated Press reporters Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Ukraine, and Felipe Dana and Andrew Drake in Kyiv contributed along with other reporters from around the world.


Follow AP’s coverage of the Ukraine crisis at

Evgeny Maloletka, The Associated Press


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