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Video from besieged Mariupol shows physical and emotional devastation: ‘I don’t know where to run’

Anastasia Erashova cries and hugs a child at a hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Friday. Two children in Erashova's family were killed during shelling, she said. (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)
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In Mariupol, Ukraine, Russian tanks take aim at apartment buildings. Blocks of high-rises are smoldering. Fields are pockmarked from artillery rounds. Doctors dodge sniper fire. The dead are buried in mass graves.

These are among the terrifying scenes and snapshots that have emerged in recent days from the city on Ukraine’s southeastern coast, an important port coveted by Moscow, which hopes to seize control and use it as a launchpad for troops and supplies. The Kremlin’s forces have surrounded the city for at least 10 days, cutting it off from sources of water, electricity and heat, with temperatures plummeting and food running low. Attempts to evacuate have been stalled for days.

On April 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the siege of Mariupol a “success.” Here’s a look back at key moments in the battle for Ukraine’s strategic port city. (Video: Leila Barghouty/The Washington Post)

On Saturday, after Russian troops captured Mariupol’s eastern outskirts, additional footage and photographs surfaced, shedding more light on the scope of the devastation there — a city under siege and suffering. Video from an Associated Press journalist still in the city shows Russian tanks repeatedly firing on a nine-story apartment complex. The shells collide with the building and ignite fires inside.

The AP reporter was shadowing a group of medical workers who came under fire while treating the injured, the news service said. At one point, a medical staffer was shot in the hip. She would survive, but the episode illustrates the perilous conditions doctors and nurses are facing as they try to care for a fast-growing group of wounded residents.

In the corridors of a hospital, Anastasia Erashova held a sleeping child and wept. She and her family were sheltering at her brother’s home when it was shelled, she told the AP, and two children were killed. She had blood on her head and a cut on her hand.

“I don’t know where to run to,” Erashova cried. “Who will bring back our children, who?”

A mother’s mission: Reach her family stranded in Ukraine’s ravaged Mariupol

While the clips from the Mariupol medical center show the city’s anguish close-up, pictures from a Maxar Technologies satellite far above show a wide-angle view. Captured on Saturday morning, the images reveal far-reaching destruction at the end of a week punctuated by Russia’s increasingly brutal assault.

In one pair of photos, a residential area is shown before the Russian invasion: A cluster of apartment buildings surrounds a sports field and the lines of what may be a basketball court. In a picture taken Saturday, the buildings are burning, a thick plume of smoke obscuring the field.

Another set of before-and-after photos shows more large apartment buildings clustered in a forested area. After days of shelling in the city, the apartments on Saturday appeared charred and severely damaged, with black smoke unfurling from several structures.

“Besieged Mariupol is now the worst humanitarian catastrophe on the planet,” Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said on Twitter.

Even though the city was encircled, he said, it remained under Ukrainian control on Saturday.

Mariupol officials say the death toll there tops 1,500, but the numbers are difficult to verify because of the near-constant barrage of mortars, which has driven many independent aid workers from the area.

Russian attacks hit at least 9 Ukrainian medical facilities, visual evidence shows

On Wednesday, the city suffered one of the most high-profile attacks since Russia’s invasion began, when a strike tore through a maternity hospital, killing at least three people and injuring 17. The bombing was denounced in Ukraine and abroad as an example of the way Moscow’s strikes have shifted toward civilian-heavy areas. Videos and photos of the aftermath show children and injured pregnant women being led from the hospital, parts of which were reduced to rubble.

One of the injured women, the AP reported, lost several toes in the attack. Her baby was born Friday.

“It is hatred,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said of the shelling during a Saturday video address. “They kill children. They destroy maternity hospitals.”

The bombardment has thwarted evacuation efforts in the city. Russian forces have shot at ambulances and trucks carrying food and medical supplies. On Saturday morning, a convoy carrying 90 tons of food and medicine set out again for Mariupol. Zelensky said it would arrive Sunday afternoon. It’s unclear whether the journey will be successful.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed,” Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said, “and we know that fearlessness, devotion and courage … will triumph.”

Loveday Morris in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, and David L. Stern in Mukachevo contributed to this report.

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