View of the residential buildings destroyed by a missile in Zaporizhzhia on March 02, 2023. © MSF

Ukraine: MSF teams treating patients after missile attack on residential building in Zaporizhzhia


At midnight on Thursday, a Russian missile struck a five-story residential building in Zaporizhzhia city, in Zaporizhzhia oblast (province), southeastern Ukraine. The building housed approximately 300 people in 70 apartments. In collaboration with local authorities, emergency teams from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) are at the scene of the attack to provide psychological first aid and essential relief items to those affected.

The total number of casualties has yet to be confirmed, but according to the local prosecutor general’s office, four people were killed, eight people were injured, and five people remain missing. The missile split the building in half, and electricity and water supplies were cut off. Shrapnel and the shock wave from the blast also caused damage to neighbouring residential buildings.

Overnight, the air raid alert in the city was activated due to a threat of missile attack, forcing our teams to go to the bunker twice. They heard two large explosions in the city around 1:30 a.m.. In fact, the explosions occurred two kilometres from the MSF office in a densely populated residential area.

Our teams are now providing treatment to people with skin cuts and burns, as well as providing psychological first aid. We have so far provided 37 medical and eight psychological consultations via a mobile clinic, which includes a medical doctor, two psychologists, and a health promoter. Most of the patients we treated were elderly people.

“People have been coming to the MSF mobile clinic with a sudden, severe increase in blood pressure, and experiencing stress,” says Dr Gennadiy Ohmatenko, a medical doctor with the MSF mobile clinic. “Many people have gathered at the site, knowing that their relatives are under the rubble. They are hoping for news from the rescuers, who are still dismantling the debris.”

MSF has distributed relief items, blankets and mattresses to those affected. We have also donated 100 hygiene kits and 100 blankets each to the city council and the Ukrainian Red Cross. In addition, we provided Hospital No. 3 in Zaporizhzhia with medical supplies to help them cope with the influx of wounded. Rescuers and medics continue evacuating residents to hospitals and shelters.

“It is the second time since the beginning of 2023 that our teams have witnessed the aftermath and responded following attacks where there’s been a blatant disregard for the protection of civilian lives,” says François Delfosse, MSF country director for Ukraine. “The war continues to put an unacceptably heavy toll on people.”

A Russian missile also struck a residential building in central Dnipro on 14 January, killing at least 46 people, including six children, and injuring more than 80.

MSF has been working in Zaporizhzhia since March 2022, where we provide medical supplies to hospitals near the frontlines. We also run mobile clinics that offer medical consultations and mental health support to displaced people and residents.