A mother shields her baby amid chaos at bombed Kyiv hospital

By Max Hunder

KYIV (Reuters) -Moments after a Russian missile smashed into a Kyiv hospital where her infant son was being treated, Svitlana Kravchenko rushed to cover the two-month-old with a cloth in order to protect him from the debris and dust in the air.

Her voice quivering, the 33-year-old spoke as she emerged from a bomb shelter after one of the worst Russian missile strikes on Kyiv in months. Monday's rare daytime attack all but destroyed sections of Ukraine's largest children's hospital.

"It was scary. I couldn't breathe," Kravchenko told Reuters, as rescue workers and soldiers searched for survivors in the huge pile of rubble and ruined buildings.

"I was trying to cover him. I was trying to cover him with this cloth so that he could breathe."

The Okhmatdyt hospital is renowned across Ukraine and beyond for its child care facilities, and carries out some 10,000 surgical procedures each year. Around 600 children are treated at the institution at any one time.

Ukraine's SBU security service said two people had been confirmed killed and 16 wounded at the site, and that a war crime investigation had been launched.

However, rescuers feared that more people could be missing as they continued to pick through the rubble nearly eight hours after the strike.

Across the country, at least 29 people died in a wave of missile strikes, making it one of the deadliest days of the war this year. Russia says it does not target civilians but thousands, possibly tens of thousands, have been killed since the full-scale invasion began in February 2022.

A missile struck the hospital not far from central Kyiv at around 10 a.m. (0700 GMT). A large part of the two-storey centre housing the toxicology ward was flattened, while windows were blown out in the main 11-floor building nearby.

An elderly female doctor, her head bandaged and white coat stained in blood, wandered through the hospital's grounds in a daze. Glass crunched under her feet.

Trembling mothers clutched infants tight, while older children, some of them unaccompanied, sat where they could, reeling from the shock of the explosion and ensuing carnage.

Dozens of rescuers, soldiers and ordinary people formed human chains to clear the rubble brick by brick.


Holding her baby son, Kravchenko stood outside with her husband Volodymyr, staring at the destruction.

Their car had been parked next to the destroyed building and was now buried under debris, but the young family considered themselves lucky: they had survived with only scrapes and cuts.

"If we had been in the car, our family would not exist any more," Volodymyr said, stroking his wife's cheek to comfort her as she wiped tears from her face.

Footage verified by Reuters showed a missile flying in a steep trajectory towards the hospital grounds at high speed, in what appeared to be a direct hit.

Ukraine said the ordnance used in the attack was a Kh-101, a cruise missile which typically carries a 450 kg explosive warhead.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia had fired more than 40 missiles at a number of cities, damaging infrastructure, commercial and residential buildings.

Moscow's defence ministry said it had carried out strikes on defence industry targets and aviation bases.

At the hospital, hundreds of local residents flocked to the scene after the attack and offered water and assistance.

One woman stood crying outside the main gates, worried about a relative who had been inside.

Hours after the strike, two more air raid alarms sounded, forcing hundreds of dazed patients, rescuers and onlookers to cram into a highway underpass which was sweltering in the summer heat. It proved to be false alarm on this occasion.

At the Kyiv hospital, 55-year-old doctor Yevheniia Rokhvarg, who worked in the destroyed toxicology department, said that all her immediate colleagues were alive.

But she was unsure about the fate of those who may have remained on the upper floors.

Asked whether she felt anger, she said she did not.

"Maybe exhaustion. And a very deep sadness," he said. "I just wish that this hadn't happened."

(Additional reporting by Dan Peleschuk; Editing by Ros Russell, Mike Collett-White and Jon Boyle)