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Attacks hit Ukraine maternity hospital

Attacks hit Ukraine maternity hospital

Kyiv: A Russian attack severely damaged a maternity hospital in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Ukraine said Wednesday, and citizens trying to escape shelling on the outskirts of Kyiv streamed toward the capital amid warnings from the West that Moscow's invasion is about to take a more brutal and indiscriminate turn.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter that there were people, children under the wreckage of the hospital and called the strike an atrocity. Authorities said they were trying to establish how many people had been killed or wounded.

Video shared by Zelenskyy showed cheerfully painted hallways strewn with twisted metal and room after room with blown-out windows. Floors were covered in wreckage. Outside, a small fire burned, and debris covered the ground.

Mariupol's city council said on its social media site that the damage was colossal.

Authorities announced new cease-fires Wednesday morning to allow thousands of civilians to escape from towns around Kyiv as well as the southern cities of Mariupol, Enerhodar and Volnovakha, Izyum in the east and Sumy in the northeast.

Previous attempts to establish safe evacuation corridors largely failed because of what the Ukrainians said were Russian attacks. But Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a telephone call with German's chancellor, accused militant Ukrainian nationalists of hampering the evacuations.

It was not immediately clear whether anyone was able to leave other cities on Wednesday, but people streamed out of Kyiv's suburbs, many headed for the city center, even as explosions were heard in the capital and air raid sirens sounded repeatedly. From there, the evacuees planned to board trains bound for western Ukrainian regions not under attack.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed Ukrainian nationalists for hampering the evacuation of civilians from besieged Ukrainian cities.

The Kremlin said that Putin discussed the situation in Ukraine in Wednesday's phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, with a special emphasis given to the humanitarian aspects.

It said that Putin told Scholz about Russian efforts to organise humanitarian corridors for civilians to exit areas of fighting and attempts by militants from nationalist units to hamper safe evacuation of people.

Ukrainian officials said that the continuous Russian shelling has derailed efforts to evacuate civilians from areas affected by fighting.

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