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Ukraine’s largest children’s hospital destroyed

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Daryna Vertetska was sitting with her 8-year-old daughter at Ukraine’s largest children’s hospital Monday morning when Russian missiles began to sound in the sky.

Her daughter Kira was being treated for cancer when the explosion occurred in the capital, Kiev.

“We decided not to interrupt the treatment,” Ms. Wietzka said of the therapy.

As Kira continued to receive treatment, a missile hit Ohmadit Children’s Hospital directly, with an explosion so loud that it was indescribable, she said. Flying glass shards pierced the child’s skin.

“She was very scared,” said Ms. Witecka, 33. Although covered in blood, the two men were still alive and made their way through the smoke and dust to safety.

Today, the hospital where Kira spent five months receiving life-saving treatment no longer exists, another medical facility destroyed by Russia during its years-long invasion of Ukraine.

As exhausted rescue workers finished searching the rubble of the hospital on Tuesday, doctors and nurses rushed to help dozens of critically ill children who must now seek care elsewhere, including many who, like Kira, are undergoing intensive cancer treatment.

No children died inside the hospital on Monday, but its destruction marked the deadliest day of violence against Ukrainian civilians in months, with more than 30 people killed in Kiev alone. Russia’s attacks on Monday targeted the Ukrainian capital and major cities across the country.

“I don’t want to, but I feel like I’ve lost hope,” Ms. Wietzka said.

The hospital was attacked, with young patients sitting in the street with intravenous drips in their arms. The Ukrainian Health Ministry said the blast also damaged Ukraine’s most advanced laboratory for detecting and confirming certain types of cancer, adding that they were assessing the condition of the equipment to see if it could be repaired.

“It’s scary because this is the only reference laboratory in Ukraine that confirms all oncological blood diseases,” Dr. Natalia Molodets, head of the pediatric hematology department at the Odessa Regional Children’s Hospital, said of blood cancers.

Dr. Molodets said that even in the early weeks of the war, when Russian troops were trying to capture Kiev, the lab continued to operate.

“For our children, this is critical,” she said.

Russia has been targeting Ukrainian medical facilities since the start of the war, a pattern outlined by a range of international human rights groups. The bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol, weeks after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, was an early sign of Moscow’s brutal tactics.

As of April this year, the World Health Organization stated Approximately 1,682 direct attacks confirmed The US military used heavy weapons to attack medical institutions, killing 128 staff and patients and injuring 288 people.

Elsewhere in Kiev on Monday, debris from another Russian missile landed on the Isidar Maternity Hospital and a nearby private clinic at the same time as the children’s hospital was hit. That attack killed nine people, including two children.

Two other children – 10-year-old Maksym Symaniuk and his 9-year-old sister Nastia – were also killed by falling missile debris at their home on Monday. Ukrainian Karate Federation.

On Tuesday, Vladimir Zovnir, director of the Ohmatdit Children’s Hospital, testified about the attack at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

“Children and adults were screaming and crying in fear, and the injured were crying in pain,” he said. “It was hell.” More than 300 people were injured, including eight children, according to Mr. Zoffnir. Two adults also died, including a doctor.

At the Security Council meeting, Moscow denied attacking the facility, although Analyzing video footage and missile debris Evidence gathered by Ukrainian security services suggests the hospital was hit by a Russian Kh-101 cruise missile.

International organizations including UNICEF and Ukraine’s Victor Pinchuk Foundation have pledged to help rebuild the hospital. But because Okmat-Dit performs about 7,000 complex surgeries a year, doctors say it will be difficult to replace.

President Biden will welcome Western leaders to Washington on Tuesday for NATO’s 75th anniversary. issue a statement called Monday’s attack “a shocking reminder of Russia’s brutality.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Tuesday called the attack on the children’s hospital “particularly despicable,” adding that it would only redouble Western military support for Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters in Washington alongside visiting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Blinken noted that he had visited Ukraine several times and personally visited the hospital and saw sick and injured children there.

Children being treated at Ohmadit Hospital are often unable to be evacuated to the hospital’s bomb shelters during regular air raids because moving them would compromise their treatment. Many patients are now being transferred to other hospitals across Ukraine, including in Odessa and Lviv.

As one of the top children’s hospitals in the country, Okhmatdyt is also Suffering severe physical and emotional trauma Staff are trained to handle some of the most difficult medical situations. But many said they simply could not have been prepared for Monday’s attack.

Nazar Borozniuk, a physiotherapist at the hospital, said it was pure luck that no children died.

He shot a video inside the hospital after the attack, showing broken glass on the ceiling and floor. “This is how everything looks now,” he said in the video. “I hope nothing falls on our heads.”

Borozniuk described the harrowing scenes unfolding in front of patients and staff at the hospital in a phone call Monday evening. “We started evacuating children, parents and families,” he said.

Hospital staff worked alongside emergency medical personnel and volunteers to care for the injured on Monday. Other parts of the hospital, such as the emergency room, continued to operate even as firefighters sprayed water into the rubble to prevent the fire from spreading.

“I couldn’t even pick up the phone because my hands were covered in blood as I helped,” Mr. Borozniuk said. “I just knew what needed to be done for the children: provide first aid, help the injured, evacuate those who needed help,” he added.

The scene was chaotic, and Borozniuk said his senses “went away all at once.” But as he drove home Monday night, hours after the hospital was hit, he finally began to comprehend what had happened. “It’s definitely going to take a toll on everybody psychologically,” he said.

“We are all human beings.”

Oleksandra Mikolishin Reporting from Kiev, Zvenka Pinchuk From Odessa, Eve Sampson From New York and Michael Crowley From Washington.

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