Pregnant woman cried 'kill me now' as baby died after Russian bombing of Ukrainian maternity ward

Images of the woman being rushed to an ambulance on a stretcher had circled the world, epitomising the horror of the attack

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In video and photos shot last week, the woman was seen stroking her bloodied lower abdomen as rescuers rushed her through the rubble in the besieged city of Mariupol.

It was among the most brutal moments so far in Russia’s 19-day war with Ukraine. The woman was rushed to another hospital, closer to the frontline, where doctors worked to keep her alive.

Realising she was losing her baby, medics said that she cried out to them: “Kill me now.”

Surgeon Timur Marin found the woman’s pelvis crushed and hip detached. Medics delivered the baby via caesarean section, but it showed “no signs of life,” the surgeon said.

They then began work on the mother.

The aftermath of Russian artillery shelling on a residential area in Mariupol
The aftermath of Russian artillery shelling on a residential area in Mariupol

Dr Marin said: “More than 30 minutes of resuscitation of the mother didn’t produce results.

“Both died.”

In the chaos after Wednesday’s air strike, medics did not have time to get the woman’s name before her husband and father came to take away her body.

Someone came to retrieve her, they said – so she did not end up in the mass graves being dug for many of Mariupol’s growing number of dead.

After being accused of war crimes, Russian officials claimed the maternity hospital had been taken over by Ukrainian extremists to use as a base, and that no patients or medics were left inside.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN and the Russian Embassy in London called the images “fake news”.

Associated Press journalists, who have been reporting from inside blockaded Mariupol since early in the war, documented the attack and saw the victims and damage first-hand.

They shot video and photos of several bloodstained, pregnant mothers fleeing the blown-out maternity ward, with medics shouting and children crying.

Mariupol shelling
Mariupol shelling

The shelling and shooting in the area is sporadic but relentless. Emotions are running high, even as doctors and nurses concentrate on their work.

Blogger Mariana Vishegirskaya gave birth to a girl the day after the air strike, and wrapped her arm around newborn Veronika as she recounted Wednesday’s bombing.

Ms Vishegirskaya said: “It happened on March 9 in Hospital number three in Mariupol. We were laying in wards when glasses, frames, windows and walls flew apart.

“We don’t know how it happened. We were in our wards and some had time to cover themselves, some didn’t.”

Her ordeal was one among many in Mariupol, which has become a symbol of resistance to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s drive to crush democratic Ukraine and redraw the world map in his favour.

The failure to subordinate Mariupol has pushed Russian forces to broaden their offensive elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the Azov Sea port city of 430,000, key to creating a land bridge from Russia to Russian-annexed Crimea, is slowly starving.