A pregnant woman pictured being carried from a Ukrainian maternity hospital after it was badly shelled by Russian forces has died along with her unborn baby, Ukraine's Foreign Affairs Ministry said Monday.
The woman, who hasn’t been named publicly, was photographed Wednesday on a stretcher as she was being taken to an ambulance in the devastation and ruin of the besieged city of Mariupol.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the attack “an atrocity” and said three people died in the bombing. It is unclear whether the unnamed woman was one of them.
The foreign ministry announced the woman’s death in a tweet and repeated the government’s plea for Western powers to enforce a no-fly zone over the country to prevent future airstrikes.
On Saturday, The Associated Press spoke to Dr. Timur Marin, the surgeon who tried to save the woman’s life, who said her pelvis had been crushed and a hip had been detached. The baby was delivered by cesarean section but showed “no signs of life,” he said.
“More than 30 minutes of resuscitation of the mother didn’t produce results,” Marin said told the AP. “Both died.”
The woman's father and husband arrived to retrieve her body, the AP reported, citing medical staff members, saving her from being buried in one of Mariupol's mass graves. Medics said they didn't have time in the chaos to ask for her name.
An image of the white-faced woman was widely shared on social media last week, and for many people it epitomized how even the most vulnerable have come under fire since the Russian invasion began Feb. 24.
A tweet from Russia’s embassy in London claimed last week that the hospital was no longer a medical facility but instead was being “used by armed forces and radicals, namely the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion.”
While Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to paint Ukraine as a Nazi hotbed and the Ukrainian National Guard is home to the Azov Battalion, which has historical ties to neo-Nazis, there is no evidence to suggest widespread support for such extreme-right nationalism in the government, the military or the electorate.
The tweet placed a “FAKE” slogan over the picture of injured pregnant women and quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Twitter later deleted it for breaching its rules “related to the denial of violent events.”
The Red Cross warned Sunday that hundreds of thousands of civilians in Mariupol faced a “worst-case scenario” unless there was an agreement to ensure safety and access to humanitarian aid.
The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, said in a statement that people in the city are “facing extreme or total shortages of basic necessities like food, water and medicine.”
“Dead bodies, of civilians and combatants, remain trapped under the rubble or lying in the open where they fell,” the statement said.
“Life-changing injuries and chronic, debilitating conditions cannot be treated. The human suffering is simply immense.”
The Red Cross called on the parties to agree on the terms of a cease-fire and routes for safe passage and to ensure that the deal is respected. It offered to act as a neutral intermediary in negotiations.
There was better news for expectant mother Mariana Vishegirskaya, who was in the same maternity hospital in Mariupol during the shelling but escaped with minor injuries.
She gave birth to a girl, named Veronika, on Friday.