Russia's heaviest bombardment of Kyiv in 4 months kills at least 31

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Ukraine, July 10: Russian missiles blasted cities across Ukraine on Monday, damaging the country's largest children's hospital and other buildings in a fierce assault that interrupted heart surgeries and forced young cancer patients to take their treatments outdoors. At least 31 people were killed, officials said.

The daytime barrage targeted five Ukrainian cities with more than 40 missiles of different types, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on social media. Ukraine's air force said it intercepted 30 missiles. More than 150 people were wounded.

It was Russia's heaviest bombardment of Kyiv in almost four months, hitting seven of the city's 10 districts. At least seven people were killed in the capital, including two staff members at the hospital. Strikes in Kryvyi Rih, Zelenskyy's birthplace in central Ukraine, killed 10.

The attack on the Okhmatdyt children's hospital caused debris to fall into heart patients' open chests in the middle of surgery. Cancer patients had their beds wheeled into parks and onto the streets.

"It is very important that the world should not be silent about it now and that everyone should see what Russia is and what it is doing," Zelenskyy said.

Russia denied attacking the hospital and said the strikes hit military targets.

The assault unfolded a day before Western leaders who have backed Ukraine were scheduled to begin a three-day NATO summit in Washington to consider how they can reassure Kyiv of the alliance's unwavering support and offer Ukrainians hope that their country can survive Europe's biggest conflict since World War II.

Zelenskyy said during a visit to Poland that he hopes the summit will provide more air defense systems for Ukraine.

In a statement, U.S. President Joe Biden called Monday's missile strikes "a horrific reminder of Russia's brutality."

"It is critical that the world continues to stand with Ukraine at this important moment and that we not ignore Russian aggression," the statement said.

At the hospital in Kyiv, rescuers searched for victims under the rubble of a partially collapsed, two-story wing of the facility. At the main 10-story building, windows and doors were blown out, and walls were blackened. Blood was spattered on the floor in one room. The intensive care unit, operating theaters and oncology departments all were damaged, officials said.

At the time of the strike, three heart operations were being performed, leading to the contamination of the patients' open chests with blast debris, Health Minister Viktor Liashko said.

The hospital lost water, light and oxygen, and the patients were transferred to other hospitals, he told Ukrainian television.

Rescuers formed a line, passing bricks and other debris to each other as they sifted through rubble. Smoke rose from the building, and volunteers and emergency crews worked in protective masks.

Some mothers carried their children away on their backs, while others waited in the courtyard with their children as calls to doctors' phones rang unanswered.

A few hours after the initial strike, another air-raid siren sent many of them hurrying to the hospital's shelter. Led by a flashlight through the shelter's dark corridors, mothers carried their bandaged children in their arms, and medical workers carried other patients on gurneys. Volunteers handed out candy to try to calm the children.

Marina Ploskonos said her 4-year-old son had spinal surgery Friday. (AP)

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