| 17.6°C Dublin

besieged Ukraine accuses Russia of bombing children's hospital in Mariupol during ceasefire

Russia, which denies targeting civilians, had said it would hold fire to let civilians flee Mariupol and other cities on Wednesday

Close

People cross a destroyed bridge as they try to leave the city of Irpin, in the Kyiv region

People cross a destroyed bridge as they try to leave the city of Irpin, in the Kyiv region

Refugees Olena Savkova with her son Misha (10 months) from the cityh of Dnipro in Ukraine who crossed the border to Poland (Photo: Mark Condren)

Refugees Olena Savkova with her son Misha (10 months) from the cityh of Dnipro in Ukraine who crossed the border to Poland (Photo: Mark Condren)

Refugees at Madyka in Poland (Photo: Mark Condren)

Refugees at Madyka in Poland (Photo: Mark Condren)

Refugee Olena Savkova with her children Ellie (10) Kristie (7) and Misha (10 months) from the cityh of Dnipro in Ukraine who crossed the border to Poland (Photo: Mark Condren)

Refugee Olena Savkova with her children Ellie (10) Kristie (7) and Misha (10 months) from the cityh of Dnipro in Ukraine who crossed the border to Poland (Photo: Mark Condren)

Kseniya Muraskova from Ukraine sheds a tear as she receives a red rose for International Women's Day from Aigars Joksts from Kimmage in Dublin at the refugee reception centre in Medyka, Poland (Photo: Mark Condren)

Kseniya Muraskova from Ukraine sheds a tear as she receives a red rose for International Women's Day from Aigars Joksts from Kimmage in Dublin at the refugee reception centre in Medyka, Poland (Photo: Mark Condren)

(Photo: Mark Condren)

(Photo: Mark Condren)

Relatives checking their phones to see have famiuly made it across the border from Ukraine at the Medyka border crossing in eastern Poland (Photo: Mark Condren)

Relatives checking their phones to see have famiuly made it across the border from Ukraine at the Medyka border crossing in eastern Poland (Photo: Mark Condren)

(Photo: Mark Condren)

(Photo: Mark Condren)

/

People cross a destroyed bridge as they try to leave the city of Irpin, in the Kyiv region

Ukraine accused Russia on Wednesday of bombing a children’s hospital in the besieged port of Mariupol during a supposed ceasefire to enable some of the hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in the city to escape.

Russia, which denies targeting civilians, had said it would hold fire to let civilians flee Mariupol and other besieged cities on Wednesday. But the city council said the hospital had been hit more than once.

"The Russian occupying forces have dropped several bombs on the children's hospital. The destruction is colossal," it said in an online post, adding that it did not yet know any casualty figures. The report could not immediately be verified.

Earlier Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russia had broken the ceasefire around the southern port, which lies between Russian-backed separatist areas of eastern Ukraine and Crimea, annexed by Moscow from Ukraine in 2014.

"Russia continues holding hostage over 400,000 people in Mariupol, blocks humanitarian aid and evacuation. Indiscriminate shelling continues," he wrote on Twitter. "Almost 3,000 newborn babies lack medicine and food."

Close

Refugees at Madyka in Poland (Photo: Mark Condren)

Refugees at Madyka in Poland (Photo: Mark Condren)

Refugees at Madyka in Poland (Photo: Mark Condren)

Local officials in other cities said some civilians had left on Wednesday through safe corridors, including out of Sumy in eastern Ukraine and Enerhodar in the south.

However, Russian forces were preventing a convoy of 50 buses from evacuating civilians from the town of Bucha outside Kyiv, local authorities said in an online post, adding that talks continued to allow the convoy to leave.

Both sides have accused each other of violating ceasefires that would allow to evacuate Mariupol, which Russian forces have kept under siege for more than a week.

On Tuesday, the Red Cross called conditions inside the city "apocalyptic", with residents sheltering underground from relentless bombardment, with no access to food, water, power or heat.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

Meanwhile, radioactive substances could be released from Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear power plant because it cannot cool spent nuclear fuel after its power connection was severed, Ukraine’s state-run nuclear company Energoatom said on Wednesday.

Work to repair the connection and restore power to the plant, which has been occupied by Russian troops, has not been possible because fighting is under way, it said.

Meanwhile, an air alert was declared in and around Kyiv in the early hours of this morning, where residents in Ukraine's besieged capital city were urged to get to bomb shelters as quickly as possible.

“Kyiv region – air alert. Threat of a missile attack. Everyone immediately to shelters,” regional administration head Oleksiy Kuleba said on Telegram.

Nearly two weeks into the invasion, Russian troops have advanced deep along Ukraine's coastline.

The city of Mariupol, which sits on the Azov Sea, has been surrounded by Russian soldiers for days and a humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the encircled city of 430,000.

Close

Refugee Olena Savkova with her children Ellie (10) Kristie (7) and Misha (10 months) from the cityh of Dnipro in Ukraine who crossed the border to Poland (Photo: Mark Condren)

Refugee Olena Savkova with her children Ellie (10) Kristie (7) and Misha (10 months) from the cityh of Dnipro in Ukraine who crossed the border to Poland (Photo: Mark Condren)

Refugee Olena Savkova with her children Ellie (10) Kristie (7) and Misha (10 months) from the cityh of Dnipro in Ukraine who crossed the border to Poland (Photo: Mark Condren)

For days, as Moscow's forces have laid siege to Ukrainian cities.

Attempts to create corridors to safely evacuate civilians have stumbled amid continuing fighting.

Across the country, thousands of people are thought to have been killed, both civilians and soldiers, in nearly two weeks of fighting. Russian forces have seen their advances stopped in certain areas - including around Kyiv, the capital - by fiercer resistance than expected from the Ukrainians.

Buses have carried civilians out of an embattled Ukrainian city along a safe corridor agreed by the warring sides, but a parallel effort to relieve the besieged port of Mariupol was thrown into jeopardy by reports of renewed Russian shelling.

UN officials report that two million people have now fled Ukraine.

On Tuesday, a convoy of buses packed with people fleeing the fighting moved along a snowy road from Sumy, a north-eastern city of 250,000 people, according to video from the Ukrainian communications agency.

Deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said they were heading south west to the city of Poltava, and included students from India and China.

Close

Kseniya Muraskova from Ukraine sheds a tear as she receives a red rose for International Women's Day from Aigars Joksts from Kimmage in Dublin at the refugee reception centre in Medyka, Poland (Photo: Mark Condren)

Kseniya Muraskova from Ukraine sheds a tear as she receives a red rose for International Women's Day from Aigars Joksts from Kimmage in Dublin at the refugee reception centre in Medyka, Poland (Photo: Mark Condren)

Kseniya Muraskova from Ukraine sheds a tear as she receives a red rose for International Women's Day from Aigars Joksts from Kimmage in Dublin at the refugee reception centre in Medyka, Poland (Photo: Mark Condren)

Hours before the convoy reached Sumy, overnight strikes killed 21 people there, including two children, Ukrainian authorities said.

Meanwhile, buses emblazoned with red cross symbols carried water, medicine and food towards the encircled southern port of Mariupol, scene of some of the worst desperation.

Ms Vereshchuk said the vehicles would ferry civilians out of the city of 430,000 people, but soon after officials announced the buses were on their way, Ukrainian authorities said they had learned of shelling on the escape route.

It was unclear whether the supply convoy made it to Mariupol, and it appeared unlikely that civilians would be able to board the buses to get out.

The deputy mayor of Mariupol cast doubt on the evacuations, telling the BBC that Russian forces continued to pound areas where people were trying to gather ahead of being taken out. He said some roads were blocked, while others were mined.

Close

(Photo: Mark Condren)

(Photo: Mark Condren)

(Photo: Mark Condren)

"So we cannot establish sustainable ceasefire and safety route at the moment,'' Serhiy Orlov said. "So we still have... a city in blockade."

The city is without water, heat, working sewage systems or phone service. Residents have been getting water from streams or by melting snow.

Corpses lay in the streets and authorities planned to start digging mass graves.

With the electricity out, many people are relying on car radios for information, picking up news from stations broadcast from areas controlled by Russian forces or Russian-backed separatists.

The fighting has caused global economic turmoil, with energy prices surging worldwide and stocks plummeting. It also threatens the food supply of millions around the globe who rely on crops farmed in the Black Sea region.

Meanwhile, seven thousand offers of accommodation for Ukrainian refugees have been received by the Irish Red Cross, the Government said today, with 2,500 now arrived in Ireland.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Top Videos





Available now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.

Privacy