July 12th, 2024

Russia’s heaviest bombardment of Kyiv in 4 months hits a children’s hospital

By Hanna Arhirova And Illia Novikov, The Associated Press on July 8, 2024.

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – Dozens of Russian missiles blasted cities across Ukraine on Monday, striking apartment buildings and a large children’s hospital in the capital, where local residents joined emergency crews to search through piles of rubble. At least 31 people were killed, officials said.

The daytime barrage targeted five Ukrainian cities with more than 40 missiles of different types, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on social media. Ukraine’s air force said it intercepted 30 missiles. More than 150 people were wounded.

It was Russia’s heaviest bombardment of Kyiv in almost four months, hitting seven of the city’s 10 districts. Seven people were killed in the capital, including two staff members at the hospital, where three children were hurt. Strikes in Kryvyi Rih, Zelenskyy’s birthplace in central Ukraine, killed 10.

“It is very important that the world should not be silent about it now and that everyone should see what Russia is and what it is doing,” Zelenskyy said on social media.

Russia denied attacking the hospital and said the strikes hit military targets.

The attack unfolded a day before Western leaders who have backed Ukraine were scheduled to begin a three-day NATO summit in Washington to consider how they can reassure Kyiv of the alliance’s unwavering support and offer Ukrainians hope that their country can survive Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II.

Zelenskyy said during a visit to Poland that he hopes the summit will provide more air defense systems for Ukraine.

At the Okhmatdyt children’s hospital in Kyiv, rescuers searched for victims under the rubble of a partially collapsed, two-story wing of the facility.

At the hospital’s main 10-story building, windows and doors were blown out, and walls were blackened. Blood was spattered on the floor in one room. The intensive care unit, operating theaters and oncology departments all were damaged, officials said.

At the time of the strike, three heart operations were being performed, and debris from the explosion contaminated the patients’ open chests, Health Minister Viktor Liashko said.

The hospital lost water, light and oxygen in the attack, and the patients were transferred to other hospitals, he told Ukrainian television.

Rescuers formed a line, passing bricks and other debris to each other as they sifted through rubble. Smoke rose from the building, and volunteers and emergency crews worked in protective masks.

Some mothers carried their children away on their backs, while others waited in the courtyard with their children as calls to doctors’ phones rang unanswered.

A few hours after the initial strike, another air-raid siren sent many of them hurrying to the hospital’s shelter. Led by a flashlight through the shelter’s dark corridors, mothers carried their bandaged children in their arms, and medical workers carried other patients on gurneys. Volunteers handed out candy to try to calm the children.

Marina Ploskonos said her 4-year-old son had spinal surgery Friday.

“My child is terrified,” she said. “This shouldn’t be happening, it’s a children’s hospital,” she said, bursting into tears.

Kyiv city administrators declared July 9 a day of mourning, when entertainment events are prohibited and flags are lowered on buildings.

Ukraine’s Security Service said it found wreckage from a Russian Kh-101 cruise missile at the site and opened proceedings on war crime charges. The Kh-101 is an air-launched missile that flies low to avoid detection by radar. Ukraine said it shot down 11 of 13 Kh-101 missiles launched Monday.

Hospitals and other medical facilities are protected from military strikes under international law unless they are being used for military operations.

The International Criminal Court’s founding charter says it is a war crime to intentionally attack buildings “dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not military objectives.”

Late last month, the court issued arrest warrants for Russia’s former defense minister and its military chief of staff for attacking Ukraine’s electricity network.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said the strikes targeted Ukrainian defense plants and military air bases and were successful. It denied aiming at any civilian facilities and claimed without evidence that pictures from Kyiv indicated the damage was caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile.

Since early in the war that is well into its third year, Russian officials have regularly claimed that Moscow’s forces never attack civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, including Associated Press reporting.

More than 1,600 medical facilities have been damaged since the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine and 214 ruined completely, according to Ukrainian Health Ministry statistics published last month.

Col. Yurii Ignat of the Ukrainian air force said Russia has been improving the effectiveness of its airstrikes, equipping its missiles with enhancements, including so-called heat traps that evade air defense systems.

In Monday’s attack, the cruise missiles flew as low as 50 meters (160 feet) off the ground, making them harder to hit, he said in comments sent to AP.

About three hours after the first strikes, more missiles hit Kyiv and partially destroyed a private medical center. Four people were killed there, Ukraine’s Emergency Service said.

In the capital’s Shevchenkivskyi district, a three-story section of a residential building was destroyed. Emergency crews searched for casualties, and AP reporters saw them remove three bodies.

The powerful blast wave scorched nearby buildings, shattered windows and flung a dog into a neighboring yard, resident Halina Sichievka said.

“Now we don’t have anything in our apartment, no windows, no doors, nothing. Nothing at all,” the 28-year-old said.

Some of the weapons used in the attack, Ukraine’s air force said, were Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, which are among the most advanced Russian weapons. They fly at 10 times the speed of sound, making them hard to intercept.

City buildings shook from the blasts. Three electricity substations were damaged or destroyed in two districts of Kyiv, energy company DTEK said.


Samya Kullab in Kyiv contributed to this report.


Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Share this story:

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments