Pregnant Ukrainian woman pictured fleeing maternity hospital blast gives birth

Mariana Vishegirskaya with her newborn, Veronika, in Mariupol Credit: AP

A Ukrainian woman has given birth after fleeing a hospital airstrike - and becoming the target of a bizarre Russian conspiracy theory.

On Thursday, a Russian assault on a maternity hospital in Mariupol left three people, including a child, dead.

A cut, bloodied and heavily pregnant Mariana Vishegirskaya was photographed by the Associated Press following the attack, her image drawing international outrage and war-crime allegations.

"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."

The Russian embassy in the UK claimed an image of Mariana Vishegirskaya fleeing the hospital was staged. Credit: AP

Amid the backlash, the Russian embassy to the UK said Ms Vishegirskaya, who they named as beauty blogger Marianna Podgurskaya, had staged her injuries with make-up.

On Twitter, the embassy wrote: "She has some very realistic make-up. She is also doing well with her beauty blogs. Plus she could not be in the maternity house at the time of the strike, as it has long been taken by the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion who told all the staff to clear the place.”

It is not known if the woman pictured also goes by the last name Podgurskaya, but the AP images were not staged.

Following criticism from the UK government, Twitter later removed the Russian embassy's post, saying it violated its rules.

On Friday, follow-up pictures from AP showed Ms Vishegirskaya lying on a hospital bed after giving birth to her daughter, Veronika. Another snap showed the baby being cradled by Ms Vishegirskaya's husband, Yuri.

Mariana Vishegirskaya lies in a hospital bed after giving birth to her daughter Veronika, held by her husband Yuri.

Ms Vishegirskaya is pictured wearing the same spotted pyjamas that she was photographed in while injured.

Responding to initial reports of the attack, Mariupol's deputy mayor Sergei Orlov told ITV News: "We're absolutely sure that [the hospital] was their target... it is a war crime of the Russian army."

Expressing outrage at the hospital attack, US Vice President Kamala Harris embraced calls for an international war crimes investigation of Russia.

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Russia's foreign minister, on the other hand, dismissed reports of the attack as "pathetic shrieks" from Ukraine and the West. He also claimed the public are being "manipulated worldwide".

Sergey Lavrov did not deny responsibility for the attack but claimed the site had earlier been seized by Ukrainian far-right radical fighters who were using it as a base, and that all patients and staff were moved from the hospital before the assault. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed 18 attacks on medical facilities since the Russian invasion began two weeks ago.