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A direct Russian strike devastated a maternity hospital in Mariupol, Zelenskyy says

A massive crater sits outside of a maternity hospital that local officials say was severely damaged on Wednesday by a Russian attack in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Ukraine.
Evgeniy Maloletka
/
AP
A massive crater sits outside of a maternity hospital that local officials say was severely damaged on Wednesday by a Russian attack in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Ukraine.

Russian forces carried out a "direct strike" on a maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Wednesday.

"People, children are under the wreckage. Atrocity!" the president said, in a tweet that included video footage that he said was from the hospital. "How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror?"

The video posted by Zelenskyy shows a series of brightly painted rooms with their floors littered with broken glass and debris from chunks of drywall that were blown apart. In one room, a tiny pink changing pad still sat atop its table, with supplies tucked underneath. Small mattresses and what looks to be a crib were also splayed on the floor.

The footage did not show anyone who was injured, although a trail of blood was seen in one area. A sequence focusing on the scene outside shows at least one small fire burning, amid several burned-out vehicles. Parts of trees were apparently snapped off. The hospital building's windows were blown out; its facade lay in tatters on the ground.

An injured pregnant woman walks down stairs in a maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Wednesday. The hospital was hit hard by a Russian attack on the besieged port city, Ukrainian officials say.
Evgeniy Maloletka / AP
/
AP
An injured pregnant woman walks down stairs in a maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Wednesday. The hospital was hit hard by a Russian attack on the besieged port city, Ukrainian officials say.

The Mariupol City Council posted the same video to its Telegram channel, along with other scenes of the devastation — including a massive crater in the hospital's courtyard.

News of the attack in Mariupol emerged after the port city's deputy mayor said Russia's military had violated a temporary cease-fire, firing on evacuation points that were meant to help civilians reach safety.

Deputy Mayor Serhiy Orlov said around 1,200 civilians have died in Mariupol since Russia launched its invasion two weeks ago, forcing the city to use mass graves to dispose of bodies.

Electricity, water and sewage lines have been cut, he said, adding that when construction crews tried to repair power lines, Russian forces fired on them.

"It's like medieval times. The only way to cook food is on an open fire," Orlov told reporters on a Zoom call. Residents are melting snow for water, he added. The city's main gas line was bombed two days ago.

An apartment building is destroyed by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Monday.
Evgeniy Maloletka / AP
/
AP
A building sits destroyed by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Monday.

Earlier Wednesday, Russian and Ukrainian officials confirmed that Russian forces had agreed to pause attacks to allow civilians to flee through six humanitarian corridors. One of those was supposed to flow out of Mariupol.

Three evacuation points were arranged this morning, Orlov said.

"Within an hour, these sites were fired on," he told reporters. "No humanitarian corridor was allowed today."

Some 200,000 people want to flee Mariupol, but only a tiny fraction have been able to do so, Orlov said. Civilian vehicles have been unable to leave for five days.

"Every time, they [Russian forces] mine the road, put in a checkpoint or shell the road," he said. "These are the darkest of times."


This story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
Lauren Frayer covers India for NPR News. In June 2018, she opened a new NPR bureau in India's biggest city, its financial center, and the heart of Bollywood—Mumbai.