Russian attacks killed a newborn in a Ukrainian maternity ward and two other civilians elsewhere, officials said Wednesday, as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of “terrorism and murder.”
Ukrainian emergency services said Russian missiles slammed into a building overnight in Vilniansk, part of the southern Zaporizhia region, in the latest attack on medical facilities since the war began nine months ago.
They circulated videos of rescue workers attempting to extricate a man trapped waist-deep in the rubble of what appeared to be the destroyed maternity ward.
“As a result of a missile attack on the territory of the local hospital, the two-story building of the maternity ward was destroyed,” the statement said.
At the time, “a woman with a newborn and a doctor” were in the building, they added.
Regional governor Oleksandr Starukh wrote on the messaging app Telegram on Wednesday: “In the night, Russian monsters fired huge rockets at the small maternity ward of Vilniansk hospital.
“Sorrow overwhelms our hearts – a baby has been killed just born. Rescuers work on site.”
Photos he posted show thick smoke billowing over piles of rubble being combed by rescue workers against a backdrop of a dark night sky.
The baby died while the woman and doctor were rescued from the rubble, rescuers said. According to preliminary information, no one else was trapped under the rubble, they added.
Russian strikes have hit Ukrainian hospitals several times since Russia invaded the country on February 24, including in the port city of Mariupol, which faced a tough siege for several weeks before falling under Moscow’s control.
An attack on the hospital in Mariupol last March killed three people, including a child. Ukraine and its western allies condemned the strike. Moscow insisted it was “staged”.
An injured pregnant woman is carried out of a maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, in March 2022, which was damaged by shelling. Source: AAP
“Terror and Murder”
Elsewhere, two people were killed in shelling on a residential building and a clinic in the northeastern Kharkiv region on Wednesday, local governor Oleg Synegubov said.
“Around 7:40 a.m. local time, Kupiansk was shelled. A nine-story apartment building and a clinic were damaged. Unfortunately, two people died: a 55-year-old woman and a 68-year-old man,” Mr Synegubov said on social media.
“The enemy has again decided to use terror and murder to try to achieve what it has not been able to achieve for nine months and cannot achieve,” Zelenskyy said on social media after the attacks.
The World Health Organization said earlier this week it had recorded more than 700 attacks on Ukraine’s health facilities since the Russian invasion began.
“Ongoing attacks on health and energy infrastructure mean that hundreds of hospitals and health facilities are no longer fully operational,” Hans Kluge, regional director for Europe at the United Nations health agency, told reporters.
Russia has systematically targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, causing severe damage ahead of the winter that Kluge says is “already having knockout effects on the healthcare system and people’s health.”
The small town of Vilniansk, some 45 kilometers from the front lines, was the target of Russian attacks last week, killing 10 people, officials said.
It is located in the Zaporizhia region, which Moscow allegedly annexed, although it did not have full control over the area.