Pregnant woman and her baby die after maternity ward bombing in Ukraine

14 March 2022, 07:21 | Updated: 14 March 2022, 07:56

A pregnant woman has died with her baby after Russia bombed a maternity hospital.
A pregnant woman has died with her baby after Russia bombed a maternity hospital. Picture: Shutterstock

By Emma Soteriou

A pregnant woman and her baby have died after Russian forces bombed the maternity hospital in Ukraine where she was meant to give birth, medics have revealed.

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

In video and photos shot last Wednesday by Associated Press journalists after the attack on the hospital, 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 war on Ukraine, which has entered its 19th day.

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The woman was pictured being carried from the wreckage in Mariupol
The woman was pictured being carried from the wreckage in Mariupol. Picture: Shutterstock

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.

"More than 30 minutes of resuscitation of the mother didn't produce results," Mr Marin said on Saturday.

"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.

Following accusations of war crimes, Russia claimed the hospital had been taken over by Ukrainian extremists 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".

In a city without food supplies, water, power or heat for more than a week, electricity from emergency generators is reserved for operating rooms.

As survivors described their ordeal, explosions outside shook the walls, with shelling and shooting in the area sporadic but relentless.

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.

After photos and video showed her navigating down debris-strewn stairs and clutching a blanket around her frame, Russian officials claimed she was an actor in a staged attack.

"It happened on March 9 in Hospital number three in Mariupol. We were laying in wards when glasses, frames, windows and walls flew apart," Ms Vishegirskaya, still wearing the same polka dot pyjamas as when she fled, told AP.

"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.