Airstrike hits maternity hospital in Ukraine, 17 injured reported – Press Enterprise

Associated Press

MARIUPOL, Ukraine (AP) – A Russian airstrike devastated a maternity hospital in the besieged port city of Mariupol on Wednesday, amid mounting warnings from the West that Moscow’s invasion was about to take a more brutal and indiscriminate turn. Ukrainian officials said at least 17 people were injured in the attack.

The ground shook more than a mile away as the Mariupol complex was hit by a series of blasts, smashing windows and ripping away much of the front of a building. Police and soldiers rushed to the scene to evacuate the victims, carrying out on a stretcher a heavily pregnant and bleeding woman.

Another woman wailed as she clutched her child. Shredded cars burned in the courtyard, and an explosion crater stretched at least two stories deep.

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

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter that there were “people, children under the rubble” and called the strike an “atrocity”. The video shared by Zelenskyy showed cheerfully painted hallways littered with twisted metal.

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

Authorities, meanwhile, announced new ceasefires on Wednesday morning to allow thousands of civilians to flee the bombed cities around Kyiv, as well as the cities of Mariupol, Enerhodar and Volnovakha in the south, Izyum in the east and Sumy in the northeast.

It wasn’t immediately clear if anyone was able to leave other cities, but people poured out of Kiev’s suburbs, many heading for the city center, as explosions were heard in the capital and air raid sirens rang out intermittently.

From there, the evacuees wanted to transfer to trains to the unattacked regions of western Ukraine.

Civilians leaving the Kiev suburb of Irpin had to make their way across the slippery wooden planks of a makeshift bridge after days ago Ukrainians blew up the concrete bridge to Kyiv to slow the Russian advance.

With sporadic gunfire ringing behind them, firefighters dragged an elderly man to safety in a wheelbarrow, a child grabbed the hand of a helping soldier, and a woman slowly pushed forward, cradling a fluffy cat in her winter coat. They trudged past a wrecked van with the words “Our Ukraine” written on the windows.

“We only have a short window of opportunity at the moment,” said Yevhen Nyshchuk, a member of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces. “Even if there is a ceasefire, there is a high risk that shells will fall at any time.”

Previous attempts to set up safe evacuation corridors in recent days have largely foundered on what Ukrainians have described as Russian attacks. But Putin, in a phone call with the German Chancellor, accused militant Ukrainian nationalists of obstructing the evacuations.

In Mariupol, local authorities hastened to bury the dead of the last two weeks of fighting in a mass grave. In one of the city’s old cemeteries, city workers dug a trench about 25 meters long and crossed themselves while pushing rug- or sack-wrapped bodies over the edge.

The strategic city of 430,000 on the Sea of ​​Azov was encircled by Russian forces last week.

Thousands are said to have been killed nationwide, both civilians and soldiers, since Putin’s troops invaded. The UN estimates that more than 2 million people have fled the country, the largest flow of refugees in Europe since the end of World War II.

The fighting has cut power to the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant, raising concerns about the spent radioactive fuel that is being stored at the site and needs to be kept cool. However, the UN nuclear regulatory agency said it sees “no critical safety implications” from the blackout.

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

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace echoed comments made by the CIA director a day earlier, saying Russia’s attack was becoming “more brutal and indiscriminate” as Putin tries to regain momentum.

The British Ministry of Defense said fighting continued northwest of Kyiv. The cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol were heavily shelled and remained encircled by Russian forces.

Russian forces are placing military equipment on farms and amid apartment buildings in the northern city of Chernihiv, the Ukrainian military said. To the south, plainclothes Russians were advancing on the city of Mykolaiv, a Black Sea shipbuilding center of half a million people, sources said.

The Ukrainian military, meanwhile, is building up defenses in cities to the north, south and east, and forces around Kyiv are “holding the line” against the Russian offensive, authorities said.

On Wednesday, some Ukraine volunteer fighters trained with rocket-propelled grenade launchers in a Kiev park.

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

But now they will fight together: “There is no other way, because it is our motherland. We must first defend our fatherland.”

In Irpin, a town of 60,000, police and soldiers helped elderly residents from their homes. A man was hauled out of a damaged building on a makeshift stretcher, while another was wheeled into Kyiv in a shopping trolley. Residents fleeing said they had been without electricity 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 in the suburbs being particularly dire.

“Russia is artificially creating a humanitarian crisis in the Kyiv region, thwarting the evacuation of people and continuing to shell and bomb small communities,” he said.

The situation is even worse in Mariupol, where efforts to evacuate residents and deliver much-needed food, water and medicines collapsed Tuesday as Ukrainians said there were continued Russian attacks.

The city took advantage of a lull 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 families wishing to say goodbye.

A woman stood at the gate of the cemetery and asked if her mother was among the buried. She was.


Associated Press journalists 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


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