Attack on Ukrainian hospital leaves 3 dead and 17 injured, officials say
An airstrike on a hospital in the port city of Mariupol killed three people, including a child, the city council said on Thursday, as Russian forces intensified their siege of Ukrainian towns, as senior Russian and Ukrainian diplomats met for the first time since the war. has begun.
The attack in the beleaguered southern port city the previous day had left 17 people injured, including women waiting to give birth, doctors and children buried under the rubble. Bombs also fell on two hospitals in another town west of the capital.
The World Health Organization said it had confirmed 18 attacks on medical facilities since the Russian invasion began two weeks ago.
Two weeks after the start of the invasion, the sides have held their talks at the highest level so far. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he hoped the meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba at a Turkish Mediterranean resort “will open the door to a permanent ceasefire”. But Kuleba said he didn’t have “high expectations”.
Ahead of the talks, artillery fire was heard west of Kiev, Deputy Interior Minister Vadym Denysenko said. He told Ukraine’s Rada TV channel that residents had spent a “rather difficult” night on the outskirts of the capital during which Russian forces first targeted military sites but then struck residential areas.
Some Ukrainian officials called the medical facility attacked on Wednesday a children’s hospital, others a maternity hospital. It was unclear if he possibly hosted both services.
The ground shook for over a mile as the series of explosions hit. Explosions blew out windows and ripped much of a building’s facade. Police and soldiers rushed to the scene to evacuate the victims, carrying a bleeding woman with a swollen stomach on a stretcher past burning and mutilated cars.
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.”
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Mariupol strike trapped children and others under the rubble.
“A children’s hospital. A motherhood,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address, switching to Russian to express his horror at the strike. “What kind of country is it, the Russian Federation, which is afraid of hospitals, afraid of maternity wards, and destroys them?”
Sharing a video showing hallways cheerfully painted and strewn with twisted metal, Zelenskyy urged the West to impose even harsher sanctions than those that have already plunged its economy into severe isolation, so that Russia “no longer has no possibility of continuing this genocide”.
Britain’s Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said whether hitting the hospital was “indiscriminate” shooting in a built-up area or deliberate targeting, “it’s a war crime”.
On Thursday, Britain added more oligarchs to its sanctions list, including billionaire Premier League football club Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich. The government said Abramovich’s assets were frozen, he was banned from traveling to the UK and from dealing with British individuals and companies.
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. He said there were no injuries.
The World Health Organization said it confirmed 10 people have died and 16 have been injured in attacks on health facilities and ambulances since the fighting began. It was unclear whether his figures included the assault on the Mariupol hospital.
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 advances against the cities of Kharkiv and Mykolaiv, in heavy fighting. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to assess the 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 planned for Thursday in bombed-out towns in eastern and southern Ukraine, including Mariupol, as well as in the outskirts of Kiev.
People left Kyiv’s suburbs a day early, many headed for the city center, as explosions were heard in 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.
International Red Cross spokesman Jason Straziuso said safe corridors were welcome but needed to be well planned, with details agreed by all parties, including the right to bring food , drinking water, medical supplies and other necessities.
Such guarantees are vital for places like Mariupol, a city of 430,000 people on the Sea of Azov, where Zelenskyy’s office said around 1,200 people died during the nine-day siege.
“We haven’t been able to restock our teams in recent days in Mariupol, for example,” Straziuso said.
Local authorities rushed to bury the dead from the past two weeks of fighting in a mass grave in the city. Workers dug a trench about 25 meters (yards) long in one of the city’s old cemeteries and made the sign of the cross as they pushed bodies wrapped in mats or sacks.
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.
On Wednesday, fighting knocked out power to the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant, sparking fears over the spent radioactive fuel stored there that needs to be kept cool. But the United Nations nuclear watchdog said it saw “no critical security impact” from the loss of power.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk on Thursday pleaded with the Russian military to allow access for repair crews to restore power to the plant and repair a damaged gas pipeline in the south that left Mariupol and D other towns without heat for days.
The crisis deteriorates as Moscow forces step up their bombardment of cities in response to what appears to be stronger Ukrainian resistance and heavier than expected Russian casualties.
The Biden administration has warned that Russia may seek to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine and has dismissed Russian allegations of illegal chemical weapons development there.
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 Russia may be trying to lay the groundwork for its own use of such weapons against Ukraine.
Associated Press reporters Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Ukraine, and Felipe Dana and Andrew Drake in Kyiv, Ukraine, contributed along with other reporters from around the world.
Follow AP’s coverage of the Ukraine crisis at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine