The image captured the suffering and chaos of the war in Ukraine in an instant: a pale pregnant woman clutching her belly as she was carried on a stretcher, the red-and-black polka dot sheet under her a stark contrast to the smoking soil, stripped trees and blasted-out maternity hospital around her.
The scene that followed a Russian missile strike on the hospital in the besieged city of Mariupol last week was documented by journalists from the news agency The Associated Press. It was published on the front pages of newspapers including The New York Times, a grim symbol of how Russia’s campaign in Ukraine was increasingly targeting civilians.
On Monday The A.P. said it had learned that the woman in the photo and her baby had died.
With internet connections severed, phone lines cut and cellular service disabled, The A.P. is one of the few news organizations still able to report from Mariupol. In an article published on Monday, The A.P. said that after the Russian strike on March 9, the woman was taken to another hospital. Realizing that she was losing her baby, the news organization said, she pleaded with medics: “Kill me now!”
Neither the woman nor her baby could be saved. The hospital workers did not get her name, The A.P. reported, before her husband and father retrieved her body.
Responding to worldwide condemnation of the strike, Russian officials argued that the hospital had been commandeered as a base by Ukrainian forces. Moscow’s ambassador to the United Nations dismissed the A.P. images as “fake news.”