MARIUPOL, UKRAINE —
A tank emblazoned with a giant Z backs up clumsily in the besieged city of Mariupol, crashing into destroyed buses before letting loose a shell. Ukrainian fighters later destroyed it, notching up one small victory.
An Associated Press journalist witnessed tanks firing on a nine-story apartment block and was among a group of medical workers who came under sniper fire Friday in the city surrounded by Russian soldiers.
The video he shot shows shells exploding as they hit the apartment block, already severely damaged, setting balconies on fire. It wasn't possible to tell whether the Russian positions had first received fire from the targeted locations.
At another point, a medical worker was hit in the hip by sniper fire. She survived, but conditions in the hospital were deteriorating. Windows rattled from nearby tank and artillery fire, electricity was reserved for operating tables, and the hallways were lined with people with nowhere else to go.
One of them was Anastasia Erashova, who wept and trembled as she held a sleeping child. Shelling had just killed her other child as well as her brother's child. Erashova's scalp was crusted with blood.
"We came to my brother's (place), all of us together. The women and children went underground and then some mortar struck that building. We were trapped underground, and two children died. No one was able to save them," she said through tears.
Her anguish deepened, and she cried out: "I don't know where to run to. Who will bring back our children, who?"
In a video message broadcast to European cities on Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the families of the 79 children killed in the war "had been destroyed," and pleaded for help from Europe so that the number does not grow.
Zelenskyy emphasized the plight of Mariupol, a port city of 430,000 in southeastern Ukraine, surrounded by Russian troops.
"They are bombing it 24 hours a day … launching missiles,'' he said, recalling the destruction this week of a maternity hospital in the city. "It is hatred. They kill children. They destroy maternity hospitals. They destroy hospitals, why? So Ukraine has no more children."
"This is happening in all of our country. They have destroyed dozens of hospitals, hundreds of schools and day cares, they are destroying universities, they are destroying residential quarters,'' Zelenskyy said. "Imagine how we can survive, what it means for us Ukrainians and our families, for our children. What it means when you cannot even find the peace in church because Russians are bombing even the churches."
He sought help from European countries to defend Ukraine but also the continent's own way of life. He again appealed for protection of Ukraine's skies.
The night before in Mariupol, a building that was hit by tank fire during the day still burned later in the night. No one was around to extinguish the flames.