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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Russia’s strikes on Kherson continue as Ukraine renews pleas to evacuate

Workers carrying furniture from a hospital maternity unit in Kherson, Ukraine, on Wednesday after Russian shelling damaged the building.

By Shashank Bengali

Russian forces launched a missile attack and nearly three dozen rockets at Kherson over the past day, the Ukrainian military said Wednesday, and officials called on residents to evacuate the embattled southern city where Moscow has stepped up artillery strikes.

The strikes hit a maternity ward where at least five women were recovering after giving birth, according to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office.

“Miraculously, no one was hurt,” he said.

Images shared by Tymoshenko on Telegram, the social messaging app, after the strike Tuesday showed blown-out windows, a hole in the roof and piles of rubble in one of the rooms.

Kherson has been battered by shelling since Ukraine retook the city last month, with Russian forces using new defensive positions on the opposite bank of the Dnieper River to launch near-daily barrages at the city. At least 10 people were killed in the city in shelling Saturday, officials said.

On Tuesday, Ukraine’s Ministry of Reintegration renewed a plea for residents to leave Kherson, quoting Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk as saying, “The enemy does not stop shelling.” The ministry, which helps manage affairs in land that had been occupied by Russia, said on Facebook that about 300 people were departing Kherson every afternoon on an evacuation train headed west to the city of Khmelnytski. Most of them are older people, those with reduced mobility, women and children.

Passage on the evacuation trains is free of charge, with the Ukrainian government urging civilians to leave regions of active fighting and spend the winter in safer areas to the north and east. The government has promised free shelter and cash payments to those who heed the call to evacuate.

The toll of Russia’s war has continued to grow. The United Nations’ human rights office, in its latest tally of civilian casualties in the war, said it had recorded the deaths of 6,884 people in Ukraine due to fighting as of Monday. Nearly 11,000 people had been wounded, the office said, while emphasizing that in both cases the real figures were likely to be “considerably higher.”

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