In a video message posted to Telegram, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko asked for the global community to “close the sky over Ukraine.”
“Today I am asking the global community for help. Close the sky over Ukraine. Our will has not been broken, we will fight to the end,” Boichenko said. “We have motivated soldiers and officers who defend our homeland. But today we need support.”
The head of the Donetsk regional military administration, Pavel Kirilenko, said 17 people were injured in the strike. Nobody was killed, he said.
“Currently, 17 wounded and women have been confirmed. As for children … zero confirmed [injuries]. As for the victims, the number remains at zero,” Kirilenko said Wednesday, Ukraine’s Interfax news agency reported.
Kirilenko noted that the Russian air strike was was carried out during the temporary ceasefire in Mariupol.
The ground shook more than a mile away when the Mariupol maternity was hit by a series of blasts that blew out windows and ripped away much of the front of one building.
Police and soldiers rushed to the scene to evacuate victims, carrying out a heavily pregnant and bleeding woman on a stretcher. Another woman wailed as she clutched her child.
In the courtyard, a blast crater extended at least two stories deep.
“Today Russia committed a huge crime,” said Volodymir Nikulin, a top regional police official, standing in the ruins. “It is a war crime without any justification.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said children were trapped under rubble in the aftermath of the strike.
“A children’s hospital. A maternity hospital. How did they threaten the Russian Federation?” He said in a televised address. “What kind of country is this, the Russian Federation, which is afraid of hospitals, afraid of maternity hospitals, and destroys them?”
Mayor Boichenko said he is certain “all these occupiers will face justice at The Hague.”
This “war crime will be punished, and the perpetrators will burn in hell,” he added.
Russian officials claim Ukraine was establishing combat positions at the hospital.
Hours before the strike, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that “in Mariupol, the Ukrainian national battalions, having expelled the staff and patients from the maternity hospital, equipped combat positions in it.”
The Epoch Times has been unable to independently verify the claims.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on March 5 that he would view any country that declares a no-fly zone over Ukraine as a participant in the “armed conflict.”
“That very second, we will view them as participants of the military conflict, and it would not matter what members they are,” he said.
Zelensky has repeatedly called on NATO to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine. NATO has rejected the request, saying that doing so could risk instigating further conflict with Russia.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.