Television staff

Airstrike injures 17 staff at children’s hospital in Ukraine

Debris is seen at the site of the destroyed Mariupol Children’s Hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine. Photo— Military/Handout via REUTERS
  • Ukraine’s president posted a video on Twitter showing massive destruction at the large medical complex.
  • The attack came as women were in labor at the newly refurbished hospital.
  • The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman did not deny the attack during a briefing in Moscow.

Kyiv: A Russian airstrike hit a pediatric and maternity hospital in the beleaguered Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on Wednesday, injuring at least 17 staff, officials said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a video on Twitter showing massive destruction at the large medical complex, including blown out windows and torn interior walls, which he said was caused by a “direct strike by Russian troops”.

He said adults and children were “under the wreckage”.

“So far there are 17 injured people in the hospital,” said Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the southeastern Donetsk region, in a video posted on Facebook.

“So far, no child has been injured” and there have been “no fatalities”, he added.

The attack took place while women were giving birth in the recently renovated hospital, the Donetsk regional military administration told AFP.

The attack came as the World Health Organization warned that the war with Russia had sparked a health crisis in Ukraine, with at least 18 verified attacks on health facilities, ambulances and staff, killing 10 and 16 injured.

The attack “literally destroyed” the central city maternity hospital, which also included a pediatric unit, Kyrylenko said.

Videos posted by the regional chief and city authorities showed the evacuation of the hospital with one woman on a stretcher and another being picked up by two men as she walked out.

They also showed a huge crater in the hospital courtyard, broken tree branches and burning cars, while cladding was ripped from the building’s facade.

Kyrylenko commented that a Russian pilot obviously knew where the bomb would land.

Zelensky condemned the attack as an “atrocity” and again called for the imposition of a no-fly zone over the country. NATO refused to do so.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also condemned the attack, saying: “There are few things more depraved than targeting the vulnerable and helpless.”

Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich told Ukrainian TV that “the Mariupol maternity strike was ‘just the start’, warning that ‘a completely different war is about to begin’.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova did not deny the attack in comments during a briefing in Moscow.

She said Ukrainian “nationalist battalions” were using the maternity ward to set up firing positions after evacuating staff and patients.

Mariupol, on the Sea of ​​Azov in southeastern Ukraine, is surrounded by Russian forces, who shelled the city despite promises of a ceasefire to allow the evacuation of civilians.

Residents were cut off from electricity, water and gas. Communications are down and attempts to deliver food and medicine have failed.

Ukrainian mediator Lyudmyla Denisova wrote on Telegram that Mariupol faces a humanitarian crisis.

“The Russian army has been bombarding Mariupol with heavy artillery since early morning today,” she said, adding that the planned evacuation route to Zaporizhzhia in the northwest had not been cleared. .