Russian strike destroys children's hospital in Kiev

A Russian strike devastated a crowded children's hospital in central Kiev on Monday, part of a large-scale air strike that has killed at least 20 people in several cities across Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said at least 40 long-range missiles were fired at targets across the country in the deadly barrage, and that people were trapped under the rubble of a children's hospital. Damage was also reported in central and eastern Ukraine, raising questions about the state of Ukraine's air defenses, just a day before NATO leaders meet in Washington to discuss how to strengthen them.

At least 50 people were injured in the bombing, according to Ihor Klymenko, head of the Interior Ministry. Officials warned that the death toll was likely to rise.

In Kiev, local authorities said at least 17 people were killed and 41 others were injured. It was unclear how many of the victims were at Ohmatdyt Children's Hospital or elsewhere in the city, where fires were reported after debris from rockets launched from the sky crashed into residential neighborhoods.

The children's hospital is the largest in Ukraine. Shortly after the strike, a woman brought a small child covered in dust and blood near the entrance.

A desperate search-and-rescue operation was underway there Monday afternoon; Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko said more than 100 rescuers were on the scene. Outside the hospital, civilians formed a human chain to help clear away the rubble brick by brick.

Doctors and staff at the hospital, which treats 20,000 children each year, shared images of blood-stained corridors, collapsed ceilings and destroyed operating rooms.

Dr. Tymofii Dvorovyi, a surgeon at the hospital, said he managed to get his patients into the bomb shelter shortly before the attack.

“I don't know how the other departments fared,” he said. “There were surgeons performing operations when the missile hit.”

After the explosion, he said, he saw dozens of “badly injured” people staggering in the corridors.

A two-story medical building located about 150 yards from the main hospital sustained the most extensive damage, with the structure completely collapsed. The blast also blew out windows in the main hospital and blasted shrapnel into the building.

“We are now evacuating patients to another hospital,” Dr. Dvorovyi said.

Viktor Lyashko, Ukraine's health minister, said that intensive care units, operating rooms and the oncology department had all suffered damage.

Mr Zelensky condemned the attack on the hospital, which he said “saved and restored the health of thousands of children”.

“Russia cannot claim ignorance of where its missiles are flying and must be held fully accountable for all its crimes,” he said in a statement. “It is very important that the world does not remain silent about this now and that everyone sees what Russia is and what it is doing.”

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