MARIUPOL, Ukraine (AP) — A pregnant woman and her baby died after Russia bombed the maternity hospital where she was due to give birth, The Associated Press has learned.
MARIUPOL, Ukraine (AP) — A pregnant woman and her baby died after Russia bombed the maternity hospital where she was due to give birth, The Associated Press has learned. Images of the woman being rushed to an ambulance on a stretcher had been seen around the world, epitomizing the horror of an attack on the most innocent of humanity.
In video and photos shot dead Wednesday by AP reporters after the attack on the hospital, the woman was seen stroking her bloodied lower abdomen as rescuers rushed her through the rubble of the besieged city of Mariupol, her blanched face reflecting her shock at what had just happened. It was one of the most brutal moments so far Russia’s war on Ukraine has now lasted 19 days.
The woman was rushed to another hospital, even closer to the frontline, where doctors worked to keep her alive. Realizing she was losing her baby, the doctors said she screamed at them, “Kill me now!”
Surgeon Timur Marin found the woman’s pelvis crushed and the hip detached. Doctors delivered the baby by caesarean section, but he showed “no signs of life”, the surgeon said.
Then they focused on the mother.
“More than 30 minutes of resuscitation of the mother did not yield results,” Marin said on Saturday.
“Both are dead.”
In the chaos following Wednesday’s airstrike, medics had no time to get the woman’s name before her husband and father came to take her body away. At least someone came for her, they said – so she wouldn’t end up in the mass graves dug for many of the dead among Mariupol’s growing number.
Accused of war crimes, Russian officials claimed the maternity ward had been taken over by Ukrainian extremists to serve as a base, and no patients or doctors had been left inside. Russia’s ambassador to the UN and the Russian embassy in London called the footage “fake news”.
Associated Press reporters, who report from inside Mariupol, which has been blocked since the start of the war, documented the attack and saw the casualties and damage first hand. They shot videos and photos of several bloodstained pregnant mothers fleeing the destroyed maternity ward, screaming doctors, crying children.
The AP team then found the victims on Friday and Saturday in the hospital where they had been transferred, on the outskirts of Mariupol.
In a city without food, water, electricity or heating for more than a week, the electricity from the emergency generators is reserved for the operating rooms.
As survivors described their ordeal, explosions outside rocked the walls. Shelling and shooting in the area is sporadic but incessant. Emotions run high, even as doctors and nurses concentrate on their work.
Blogger Mariana Vishegirskaya gave birth to a daughter the day after the airstrike, and wrapped her arm around newborn Veronika as she recounted Wednesday’s bombing. After photos and a video showed her navigating debris-strewn stairs and clutching a blanket around her pregnant body, Russian officials claimed she was the actor in a staged attack.
“It happened on March 9 at Mariupol No. 3 Hospital. We were lying in rooms when the glasses, frames, windows and walls came apart,” Vishegirskaya, still wearing the same polka dot pajamas as when she fled, told AP.
“We don’t know how it happened. We were in our rooms and some had time to cover themselves, others not.
His ordeal was one of many in Mariupol, which has become a symbol of resistance to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s drive to crush democratic Ukraine and redraw the world map in his favor. Mariupol’s failed subordination has pushed Russian forces to expand their offensive elsewhere in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the Sea of Azov port city of 430,000 people, key to creating a land bridge between Russia and Russian annexed Crimea, is slowly starving.
In the new makeshift maternity hospital, each approaching delivery brings new tensions.
“All mothers who give birth have been through so much,” nurse Olga Vereshagina said.
One of the distraught mothers lost some of her toes in the shelling. Doctors performed a C-section on her on Friday, carefully removing her daughter and rubbing the newborn vigorously to stimulate signs of life.
After a few seconds of breathlessness, the baby cries.
Shouts of joy echo through the room. Newborn baby Alana is crying, her mother is crying, and medical staff are wiping the tears from their eyes.
Follow AP coverage of the Ukraine crisis at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
Mstyslav Chernov, Associated Press