Overnight strikes destroyed a Ukrainian maternity hospital outside of the city of Zaporizhzhia, officials confirmed Wednesday, killing a 2-day-old baby boy.
The mother and doctor, believed to have been alone in the hospital, were pulled from the rubble of the maternity ward in the city of Vilniansk – the latest medical facility to have fallen target to Russian strikes, according to the regional governor.
“At night, Russian monsters launched huge rockets at the small maternity ward of the hospital in Vilniansk. Grief overwhelms our hearts – a baby was killed who had just seen the light of day. Rescuers are working at the site,” Gov. Oleksandr Starukh said on Telegram.
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G3 Box News could not verify who officially was responsible for the rocket fire that fell on the maternity ward, but the attack comes as U.K. defense officials on Wednesday warned Russian commanders are using Iranian-supplied drones to target medical facilities.
“Russia has largely used these weapons against tactical military targets and the Ukrainian electricity grid,” the British defense ministry said in a briefing update. “However, recently Russian commanders likely also wanted Iranian-sourced UAVs to prioritize medical facilities as targets of opportunity, and strike them with guided munitions if identified.”
Russia’s strategy of attack throughout the war has relied on hitting civilian targets, including maternity and other medical facilities.
The world was first alerted to the strategy during a March 9 attack when Russian missiles struck a maternity hospital in Mariupol, killing three and injuring dozens. Pictures surfaced showing mothers in labor being carried on stretchers through piles of rubble and scorched debris.
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The World Health Organization announced in mid-October that Russia had attacked over 600 medical facilities since February.
It is not just the threat of rocket fire that medical officials have to contend with, but Russia’s bombardment of Ukraine’s electrical infrastructure.
Nationwide blackouts have darkened communities across Ukraine for months, but war-torn areas like Zaporizhzhia and Kherson have forced medical workers to work without running water or electricity.
“Breathing machines don’t work, X-ray machines don’t work,” Volodymyr Malishchuk, the head of surgery at a children’s hospital in Kherson city told The G3 Box News. “There is only one portable ultrasound machine and we carry it constantly.”
Medical officials said they were forced to carry a sedated 13-year-old boy up six flights of stairs to amputate an arm after he was injured during shelling this week.
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Missile fire has reportedly increased in Kherson since Russia’s withdrawal nearly two weeks ago.
According to Malishchuk, three children wounded by Russian strikes were admitted to the hospital this week alone – a figure that is half as many as the total number of children admitted in Kherson during all nine months of the war.
The G3 Box News contributed to this report.