A maternity hospital in the southern port city of Mariupol was bombed by Russian forces on Wednesday, Ukrainian authorities claimed, marking a brutal new low in the two-week old invasion.
“Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage. Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror?,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted.
Footage shared by the country’s Ministry of Defense showed smoke rising from the destroyed building. The city council wrote on Facebook that the destruction was “colossal.”
“It’s all one complex—a maternity and children’s hospital. A lot of dead and wounded women. We don’t know about children and newborns yet,” Ukrainian MP Dmitry Gurin told BBC anchor Yalda Hakim.
The number of casualties was unknown, and it’s unclear how much of the damage was sustained in the previous airstrikes that have hammered Mariupol for days. No media outlets have independently verified the Wednesday attack and Russia has not commented.
The hospital said last week that it had moved patients down to a basement transformed into a bomb shelter, leaving a glimmer of hope that any remaining occupants might have survived a possible attack.
Mariupol had been under heavy attack for almost the entirety of the invasion, with Russian forces all but encircling the city, according to Britain’s Defense Ministry.
More than 1,000 deaths have been recorded in the city of 430,000 and the Associated Press’ correspondents reported earlier Wednesday that the scene was extremely grim. “Corpses lie in the streets… Hungry people break into stores in search of food and melt snow for water. Thousands huddle in basements, trembling at the sound of Russian shells pounding this strategic port city,” the outlet reported.
Russia had initially promised to recognize a safe evacuation corridor for Mariupol’s civilians but Ukrainian officials reported that Russian attacks prevented a convoy of rescue crews from reaching the city.