Children under wreckage of Russian strike on Mariupol maternity hospital, Volodymyr Zelenskyy says

This video contains distressing images

ITV News Europe Editor James Mates reports on the devastating impacts of the Russian airstrike that struck a maternity hospital in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on Wednesday

Children were among those left under the wreckage of a maternity hospital in the south-eastern city of Mariupol after it was hit by a Russian air strike, the Ukrainian President has said.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted footage from the incident - which he described as a "direct strike" and an "atrocity".

The video shows the ruins of an inside of a building, littered with rubble along corridors and with its doors torn off and windows smashed.

Ukrainian officials said at least 17 people were injured in the attack.

Reaffirming his wish for a no-fly zone over Ukraine - which has been resisted by Western leaders - Mr Zelenskyy pleaded: "How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror? Close the sky right now! Stop the killings!"

"You have the power but you seem to be losing humanity".

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said that women in labour and children were among those under the rubble, with Mariupol’s city council describing the damage as “colossal”.

A man carries his child away from the damaged by shelling maternity hospital in Mariupol. Credit: AP

The city council confirmed the strike had destroyed a maternity ward and a children's ward.

"It is about killing as much Ukrainians as possible," Sergei Orlov, the Deputy Mayor of Mariupol, told ITV News.

"I am absolutely sure Putin wants Ukraine without Ukrainians."

A huge crater was left in the aftermath of the shelling.

Amid scenes of panic, police and soldiers rushed to the scene to evacuate victims, carrying out a heavily pregnant and bleeding woman on a stretcher.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the Ukrainian military administration in the Donetsk region, has been quoted as saying the number of injured children "is zero, thank God, and I hope it stays that way".

People have been captured tending to the injured outside the hospital amid a ruined backdrop of fallen debris.

  • Footage shows the injured being evacuated from the hospital which looked after some of the most vulnerable in society

Boris Johnson condemned the attack in the strongest terms.

"There are few things more depraved than targeting the vulnerable and defenceless," he said. "The UK is exploring more support for Ukraine to defend against airstrikes and we will hold Putin to account for his terrible crimes."

How have Russian military tactics changed since their invasion was launched a fortnight ago? James Mates reports live from Kyiv

The situation is so grave that local officials in Mariupol have been burying the dead in a mass grave, with city workers having dug a 25m-long trench at one of the city’s old cemeteries.

More than a thousand civilians have died already, according to the city's authorities.

The World Health Organization said it has documented 18 attacks on health facilities, workers and ambulances since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began two weeks ago.

Wednesday's attack targeted Mariupol, a city facing a worsening humanitarian disaster having been cut off from food, water, and medical supplies following shelling. Corpses lie in the streets of the encircled city of 430,000, which sits on the Asov Sea.

Natalia Mudrenko, the highest-ranking woman at Ukraine’s UN Mission, told the Security Council that the people of Mariupol have “been effectively taken hostage,” by the siege.

Rooms along a corridor in the building of the maternity hospital were destroyed by the attack.
  • How difficult is it for people to leave Ukraine?

Mr Zelenskyy has said efforts are under way to evacuate some 18,000 people from the capital Kyiv and embattled towns near it.

The first major evacuation from a Ukrainian city under attack appeared to be successful on Tuesday, after a safety corridor for civilians fleeing Sumy allowed thousands to leave.

Some 5,000 civilians were safely evacuated in packed buses via a safe corridor.

Concerns remain for several other key areas in the country - particularly Mariupol, where an attempt to evacuate thousands and deliver badly needed food, water and medicine via a safe corridor failed on Tuesday.

Previous attempts to establish safe evacuation corridors have largely failed because of Russian attacks.

What is next for residents trying to escape Mariupol? Dan Rivers reports live from Zaporizhzhia, where civilians under siege in Mariupol were hoping to escape to

  • Where have ceasefires been announced?

Authorities announced new ceasefires on Wednesday morning to allow thousands of civilians to escape bombarded towns around Kyiv as well as the cities of Mariupol, Enerhodar and Volnovakha in the south, Izyum in the east and Sumy in the northeast.

But it was not immediately clear whether anyone was able to leave other cities.

The Ukrainian president warned Russian troops against violating the ceasefire - as has been the pattern in recent days.

Civilians leaving the Kyiv suburb of Irpin were forced to make their way across the slippery wooden planks of a makeshift bridge, because the Ukrainians blew up the concrete span leading to the capital days ago to slow the Russian advance.

Exclusive footage shows Russian troops just miles from Kyiv's centre

Video obtained by ITV News shows armoured Russian vehicles and troops patrolling deserted streets 13 miles from the centre of the strategically significant Ukrainian capital. The footage was filmed on Wednesday morning in Irpin, which has been reduced to smouldering ruins after several days of shelling.

Irpin is one of the towns on Russia’s path towards Kyiv, but after days of sustained fighting it has been unable to overcome the Ukrainian resistance.

  • Are the UK and US increasing economic and aerial support for Ukraine?

Following a call with Mr Zelenskyy on Wednesday, Mr Johnson condemned the "horrifying" attack on the maternity hospital, a Downing Street spokesperson said.

“The Prime Minister committed to further tighten these sanctions in order to impose the maximum economic cost on Russia," the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said "the best way to help protect the skies is through anti-air weaponry," which the UK is supplying.

The UK government has been urged to step in to help Poland provide fighter jets to Ukraine after US President Joe Biden made the decision to veto the move.

On Tuesday, Poland offered to transfer its MiG-29 fighter jets to an American base in Germany as a way to replenish Ukraine's air force in its battle against Russian forces.

The Pentagon says it would oppose any plan for Nato nations to provide fighter jets to Ukraine, calling the move “high-risk”.

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