Ukraine buries doctor killed in missile strike on children's hospital

By Andriy Perun

LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) - A weeping crowd of mourners gathered to bury Svitlana Lukianchyk on a baking hot Wednesday in Ukraine's western city of Lviv after the young doctor was killed by a Russian missile strike that hit a children's hospital earlier this week.

"She was a golden child, I don't understand how this could have happened, how the Lord could have taken her away," her grandmother, Alla Zherebetska, told Reuters through tears outside a church in central Lviv.

The 30-year-old doctor, who grew up in Lviv, was killed when a Russian missile smashed into one of the buildings of Ukraine's largest children's hospital in the capital Kyiv on Monday. Two people were killed and dozens wounded.

"I have no idea why. I don't have the strength for this. She was supposed to live a long life and just got married," her grandmother said.

Lukianchyk was one of 44 people to be killed in airstrikes across Ukraine that day. The attack on Kyiv, which killed 33, was one of the largest carried out on the Ukrainian capital throughout the 28-month-old war with Russia, officials said.

The capital, which had previously felt well-defended by an array of Western air defence systems, reeled from the shock of losing so many people in a single attack. Kyiv flew its flags at half mast for a day of mourning on Tuesday.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy vowed retaliation against Russia for the attack.

Russia said, without providing evidence, that a Ukrainian air defence missile struck the hospital. It has repeatedly denied targeting civilians during the war.

Kyiv has said it has "unequivocal" evidence that the hospital took a direct hit from a Russian Kh-101 cruise missile and video footage obtained by Reuters showed a missile flying at high speed directly towards the hospital.

The United Nations monitoring mission in Ukraine said it had established a high probability that the hospital had taken a direct hit from a Russian missile.

Maria Prishchepa, a school friend of Lukianchyk, said that she had spoken on the phone with a man who was giving her first aid after the strike on Monday.

He said Lukianchyk had been taking children to a bomb shelter, but did not make it in herself. "She didn't make it on time. The blast wave was very strong," said Prishchepa.

(Reporting by Andriy Perun; writing by Max Hunder; editing by Tom Balmforth and Mark Heinrich)