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Wednesday July 24, 2024

Russian missiles kill 36 in Ukraine, gut Kyiv children’s hospital

By AFP
July 09, 2024
Rescuers work at Okhmatdyt Childrens Hospital that was damaged during Russian missile strikes, amid Russias attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv on Jul 8, 2024. — Reuters
Rescuers work at Okhmatdyt Children's Hospital that was damaged during Russian missile strikes, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv on Jul 8, 2024. — Reuters

KYIV, Ukraine: Russia struck cities across Ukraine on Monday with a missile barrage that killed three dozen people and ripped open a children´s hospital in Kyiv, an assault condemned as a ruthless attack on civilians.

Dozens of volunteers including hospital staff and rescue workers dug through debris from the Okhmatdyt paediatric hospital in a desperate search for survivors after the rare day-time bombardment, AFP journalists on the scene saw.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia launched dozens of missiles toward five towns and cities, in the south and east of the country, as well as the capital. Ukrainian officials said 33 people were killed and another 137 wounded in the wave of 38 missiles. Three more were killed by Russian fire in Pokrovsk in eastern Ukraine. The air force said air defence systems had downed 30 projectiles.

Zelensky called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council over the barrage and urged Ukraine´s allies to deliver “a stronger response to the blow that Russia has once again delivered on our population, on our land and on our children.”

The UN condemned the “unconscionable” Russian strikes while the EU slammed Moscow for “ruthlessly” targeting civilians and the French foreign ministry called the bombardment of a children´s hospital “barbaric”.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described the attack as “abhorrent.” Kyiv said the children´s hospital had been struck by a Russian cruise missile with components produced in Nato member countries and announced a day of mourning in the capital.

Russia hit back claiming the extensive missile damage in Kyiv was caused by Ukrainian air defence systems. Moscow said its forces had struck their “intended targets”, which it added were only defence industry and military installations.

Medical staff acted quickly to move patients and personnel to the facility´s basement after air raid sirens rang out over Kyiv on Monday. “For some reason, we always thought that Okhmatdyt was protected,” said Nina, a 68-year-old hospital employee.

“We were 100 percent sure that they would not hit here,” she told AFP, as she described the frantic rush as staff moved children with IV drips to the bunker. Officials in Kyiv said the attack had also damaged several residential buildings and an office block in Kyiv where AFP reporters saw cars on fire and shredded trees in charred courtyards.

DTEK, Ukraine´s largest private energy company, said three of its electrical substations had been destroyed or damaged in Kyiv. Russian strikes on electricity infrastructure have already halved Ukrainian generation capacity in recent weeks compared to one year ago.

Russian forces have repeatedly targeted the capital with massive barrages since Moscow invaded Ukraine in February 2022, and the last major attack on Kyiv with drones and missiles was last month.

The emergency services said 22 people were killed in Kyiv on Monday, including at both medical facilities hit in the attack and that another 72 had been wounded.

In Zelensky´s hometown of Kryvyi Rig, which has been repeatedly targed by Russian bombardment, the strikes killed at least 10 and wounded over 41, officials there said. In Dnipro, a city of around one million people in the same region, one person was killed and six more were wounded, the region´s governor said, when a high rise residential building and petrol station were hit.

And in the eastern Donetsk region, where Russian forces have taken a string of villages in recent weeks, the regional governor said three people were killed in Pokrovsk -- a town that had a pre-war population of around 60,000 people.