Search for survivors as Ukraine mourns after wave of deadly strikes

US President Biden condemns missile attacks as ‘a horrific reminder of Russia’s brutality’.

Ukrainians have been observing a day of mourning after a spate of Russian missile attacks killed dozens of civilians on Monday and the search for survivors is ongoing at a flattened children’s hospital.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said at least 38 civilians, including four children, were killed and 190 people were injured in the wave of attacks.

One facility hit was the main paediatric hospital in the capital, Kyiv, where blast debris fell on active open-heart surgery patients. The roof of the Okhmatdyt hospital’s toxicology department, where children undergo dialysis, also collapsed, Ukrainian officials said, with cancer patients being wheeled onto the streets to escape the carnage.

At least two workers at Ukraine’s largest children’s hospital were killed and 16 people were injured, including seven children, with the search for those trapped under the rubble continuing on Tuesday.

Emergency and rescue personnel operate and clear the rubble of the destroyed building of Ohmatdyt Children's Hospital following a missile strike in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on July 8, 2024, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. - Russia struck cities across Ukraine on July 8, 2024, with a missile barrage that killed three dozen people and ripped open a children's hospital in Kyiv, an assault condemned as a ruthless attack on civilians. (Photo by Roman PILIPEY / AFP)
Emergency and rescue personnel clear the rubble of the destroyed building of Okhmatdyt paediatric hospital following a missile strike in Kyiv on Monday [Roman Pilipey/AFP]

Russia denied attacking the hospital, blaming the damage on fragments of a Ukrainian air defence missile. On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “I insist, we do not conduct strikes on civilian targets.”

Ukrainian officials, however, said they found parts of a Russian cruise missile at the scene.

The strike on the children’s hospital was likely caused by a direct hit from a Russian missile, the head of the United Nations human rights monitoring mission said on Tuesday, citing its own analysis.

“Analysis of the video footage and an assessment made at the incident site indicates a high likelihood that the children’s hospital suffered a direct hit rather than receiving damage due to an intercepted weapon system,” said Danielle Bell, head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.

But Bell said that her team, who visited the site on Monday, could not make a final determination.

“Among the victims were Ukraine’s sickest children,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk, who is due to address the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva later on Tuesday.

“This is abominable, and I implore those with influence to do everything in their power to ensure these attacks stop immediately,” he said.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, speaking outside the gutted hospital, said details were still being assessed and more information about the wounded would soon be released.

“We continue our work to increase the protection of our cities and communities from Russian terror. There will be decisions. The world has the necessary strength for this,” Zelenskyy posted on X.

Ukraine retaliated with a wave of strikes early on Tuesday, deploying dozens of drones in several border regions.

Russia’s Ministry of Defence said its forces shot down 38 of the drones, with falling debris setting a power substation and an oil depot on fire.

One man died, two people were injured and several homes were damaged in the Belgorod region bordering Ukraine, according to its governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov.

Russian officials rarely disclose the full extent of damage inflicted by Ukrainian attacks.

‘Reminder of Russia’s brutality’

Zelenskyy, who has long been lobbying Ukraine’s allies for more air defences, said Russia’s latest assault showed “it is necessary to take strong steps that will not leave any security deficit”.

The UN Security Council is scheduled to discuss the latest attacks later on Tuesday, when a three-day NATO summit also kicks off in Washington, DC, and will be attended by the leaders of the 32-member military alliance along with Zelenskyy.

The Ukraine war, now dragging into its 29th month, is set to be high on the agenda, with Zelenskyy set to use the occasion to further press for more military assistance.

US President Joe Biden, who is hosting the summit amid a turbulent re-election campaign, described the latest barrage of missiles on Ukraine as “a horrific reminder of Russia’s brutality” and said NATO would unveil new measures this week to shore up Ukraine’s defences.

The United States is reportedly considering donating another Patriot air defence battery to Ukraine, which sees them as particularly valuable because it is one of the only systems capable of downing Russia’s most advanced missiles.

The Kremlin said on Tuesday it would closely follow the summit because the alliance had declared Moscow its enemy and sought to defeat Russia.

Peskov said NATO “is an alliance that considers Russia an enemy, an opponent”.

NATO “has regularly declared its aim to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia on the battlefield” and “is taking part directly in the Ukrainian conflict on the side of Ukraine”, he added.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies