Putin's bombs target care home residents but all 330 patients and staff escape

11 March 2022, 13:37 | Updated: 11 March 2022, 14:10

The shelling destroyed the hospital
The shelling destroyed the hospital. Picture: Ukraine State Emergency Service

By Will Taylor

Russian forces hit a Ukrainian psychiatric hospital which housed hundreds of people in the latest shocking attack on civilians by Putin's troops.

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A shell smashed into the five-storey medical facility in Oskil near the hotly-contested strategic city of Kharkiv, close to the eastern border with Russia, reports say.

A fire broke out and the second and third storeys were "ruined". All 330 patients, including 50 who are "sedentary" and 10 wheelchair users, managed to make it to a shelter.

Nobody, including the 30 staff who also escaped the attack, was injured, according to Ukraine's Emergency Service.

The Euromaidan Press outlet reports Oleh Synehubov, the head of the Kharkiv regional state administration, said: "73 people were evacuated to the neighbouring boarding school, at the time of the enemy's attack 330 remained there."

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Rescuers found no victims of the attack
Rescuers found no victims of the attack. Picture: Ukraine State Emergency Service

The Kharkiv branch of the service said: "Rescuers promptly put out the fire centres and investigated the collapse and entire parts of the building for the presence of people. In addition, 5 private houses were destroyed by explosions in this village."

The shelling follows the attack on a maternity hospital in the southern city of Mariupol which shocked the world.

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A child was among the dead and images emerged of the destruction, including one of an injured pregnant woman walking through the bombed out building.

Russia has refused to apologise for it, claiming without evidence that it was instead occupied by a far-right unit within in the Ukrainian National Guard.

Images of civilian targets being hit will not help Moscow's bid to win the narrative over a conflict that has seen key political figures, oligarchs and businesses get slapped with heavy sanctions by the West.

Having had to use police to clamp down on protesters throughout Russian cities, and imposing the threat of up to 15 years in prison for spreading what the Kremlin deems "misinformation" about the war, some cracks in the media space have emerged.

State TV broadcast a show with guests who called the war into question, comparing it to the devastating and bloody Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Russian forces continue to try and encircle cities in Ukraine. A large armoured column that had been parked on the road to the capital Kyiv, to its north, has now dispersed, while other units advance from the east.

Kharkiv is among the cities that have been bitterly contested, with Ukraine's second city having seen areas reduced to rubble in the fighting.