Russia has bombed a children’s and maternity hospital in a condemned attack, burying patients under rubble and injuring women in labour, Ukraine said.
The air strike targeted the Ukranian port city of Mariupol on Wednesday despite Russia agreeing to a ceasefire to enable thousands of civilians trapped in the city and other besieged areas to escape through a humanitarian corridor.
The city council said the hospital had been hit several times by an air strike, causing "colossal" destruction and injuring 17 people, including women in labour.
The United Nations human rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine was verifying the number of casualties, a UN spokesperson in Geneva said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called the attack an "atrocity".
"Mariupol. Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital," he Tweeted alongside footage of the destruction.
— Ostap Yarysh (@OstapYarysh) March 9, 2022
"People, children are under the wreckage. Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror?
"Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity."
Video of the hospital, initially posted by the Ukrainian foreign ministry, shows gaping holes in walls and smashed windows, and huge piles of rubble inside and outside the three-storey building, some of it smouldering.
Beds for children and other necessities can be seen covered in glass.
Photos and footage on social media show heavily pregnant women fleeing the hospital as debris floats in the air.
"Seeing the pregnant woman walking out of the destroyed building of the maternity ward in Mariupol makes my blood run cold,” a Ukrainian woman wrote, urging for a safe passage for civilians.
"Hard to imagine how many children have been killed as a result of Russian air strike on the children’s hospital today."
Seeing the pregnant woman walking out of the destroyed building of the maternity ward in #Mariupol makes my blood run cold.
Hard to imagine how many children have been killed as a result of Russian air strike on the children’s hospital today.@ICRC @UN #SafePassageForCivilians pic.twitter.com/WKNwzE3vwW
— Olena Ivantsiv (@OlenaIvantsiv) March 9, 2022
Additional video clips posted by residents captured mass destruction at a university in Mariupol, which has been under siege for more than a week.
Smoke can be seen flowing from the tops of several buildings.
"Mariupol, the local technical university building. The city of my years as a student. This is Europe, the year is 2022," one man posted alongside footage of the facility missing a huge chunk of its roof and all windows.
Mariupol destroyed: 'Apocalyptic'
On Tuesday, the Red Cross called conditions inside the city "apocalyptic", with residents sheltering underground from relentless bombardment, with no access to food, water, power or heat.
Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russia had broken the ceasefire around the southern port, which lies between Russian-backed separatist areas of eastern Ukraine and Crimea, annexed by Moscow from Ukraine in 2014.
Mariupol. Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage. Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror? Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity. pic.twitter.com/FoaNdbKH5k
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 9, 2022
"Russia continues holding hostage over 400,000 people in Mariupol, blocks humanitarian aid and evacuation. Indiscriminate shelling continues," he wrote on Twitter.
"Almost 3,000 newborn babies lack medicine and food."
Ukraine said 67 children across the country had been killed since the invasion and at least 1,170 civilians had died in Mariupol.
Russia's defence ministry blamed Ukraine for the failure of the evacuation.
Local officials said some civilians had left several Ukranian cities through safe corridors, including out of Sumy in the east and Enerhodar in the south, but that Russian forces were preventing buses from evacuating civilians from Bucha, a town outside the capital Kyiv.
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