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At least 17 injured after maternity hospital bombed, Ukrainian officials say

Before Vice President Harris landed in Poland on March 9, Russian forces struck a maternity hospital in Mariupol, causing massive damage. (Video: Hadley Green, Drea Cornejo/The Washington Post)
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At least 17 people, including staffers and patients, were injured after a maternity hospital in Mariupol was struck by Russian forces, Ukrainian officials said Wednesday.

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Images of the aftermath show injured pregnant women being carried from the scene. Videos shared on social media and verified by The Washington Post show damage to a clinic, with windows blown out and medical gear destroyed.

Mariupol’s city council said the destruction was “colossal,” and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called it an “atrocity.”

“What kind of country is this, the Russian Federation, which is afraid of hospitals and maternity hospitals and destroys them?” Zelensky said in a video address late Wednesday, during which he switched from Ukrainian to Russian, making a direct appeal to a Russian audience.

The reported assault occurred after the World Health Organization said it had verified 18 attacks on health facilities in Ukraine.

It also came amid a fresh attempt to evacuate civilians Wednesday after Russia and Ukraine announced routes for people to leave hard-hit cities. After accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces of shelling the escape routes four days in a row, Ukrainian officials remained skeptical of the temporary cease-fire announcements. Officials in Izyum, one of the cities set to be evacuated, said Wednesday that efforts to get civilians out were compromised by shelling from Russian forces. Other evacuations appeared to be proceeding.

Here’s what to know

  • Local officials in the northeastern Sumy region, from which 5,000 people were able to evacuate a day earlier, said people were leaving in private cars and that they planned to load 22 buses with people, prioritizing pregnant women, women with children, older people and people with disabilities.
  • Ukraine’s state-owned grid operator warned that the closed Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been disconnected from the nation’s power grid by Russian forces, potentially jeopardizing the cooling of nuclear fuel still stored at the site. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba demanded a cease-fire with Russia to allow repairs, and another official called it an “extremely dangerous situation.”
  • Ukraine’s confirmed civilian casualty count rose Wednesday, the United Nations reported. Since Russia’s invasion began, at least 516 people have been killed, including 37 children, and more than 900 others have been injured. However, the real toll probably is far higher, and accurate figures are impossible to ascertain due to the difficult conditions on the ground.