Ukraine says Russia airstrike hit maternity hospital, Zelenskyy pleads 'Close the sky right now'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy again pleaded with Western allies to establish no-fly zone, "Close the sky right now"

Updated: March 9, 2022 - 12:10pm

A Russian airstrike on Wednesday hit a maternity facility and children's hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, trapping victims under the rubble, according to Ukrainian officials.

A statement on the Mariupol City Council’s social media account says the hospital suffered "colossal" damage, according to the Associated Press.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted there were "people, children under the wreckage."

He also called the strike in the besieged, southeastern seaport city an "atrocity."

The deputy head of Zelenskyy’s office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said authorities are trying to establish the number of people who may have been killed or wounded, the wire service also reports.

Last week an attack in the city of Zhytomyr resulted in a maternity ward having to be moved to an underground bomb shelter. 

On Wednesday morning, Russia and Ukraine agreed to set up evacuation routes in a handful of Ukrainian cities. Immediately, Ukrainians – mostly women and children – began moving toward the capital city of Kyiv. Efforts to create such pathways have failed several times in the last few days.

In Mariupol, aerial footage shows Russian tanks driving through the streets and dozens of buildings destroyed by shelling attacks in the past days.

In another plea for Western allies to establish a so-called "no-fly zone" over Ukraine to prevent the rocket attacks, Zelenskyy also said: "Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! ... You have the power but you seem to be losing humanity."

Thus far, the U.S. and other NATO allies have refrained from declaring a no-fly zone because it would almost certainly bring member countries into direct military conflict with Russia.

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