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Drone Attack Collapses Odesa Residential Building

Explosive Weapon Kills 12, Including 5 Children in Ukrainian City

An apartment building heavily damaged during a Russian drone strike in Odesa, Ukraine March 2, 2024.  © 2024 Stringer/Reuters

On March 2, Andriy Sidak raced to his sister’s apartment building fearing the worst.

Earlier, a Russian drone had struck the building in the north part of Odesa. What he found was rubble and dust, the mangled remains of what had been a nine-story residential building. Witnesses say the drone hit the building at the sixth-floor level, causing concrete slabs of the upper floors of the building to collapse on the lower levels.

Serhii Gaidarzhi watches as rescue workers search for the bodies of his wife Anna Gaidarzhi and their four-month-old son Tymofii, both killed in the drone attack. Odesa, March 2, 2024.  © 2024 Andriy Sidak

Sidak entered what remained of the apartment where his sister Anna Gaidarzhi lived with her husband Serhii and two children, a four-month-old son Tymofii and a three-year-old daughter Lizzi.

“The living room …, where they had a piano and a sofa, was gone. The huge concrete slab blocked the doorway to the bedroom where Anna and Tymofii slept,” said Sidak. “Their bodies were found last … in the basement. They died in their sleep, flattened by the rubble.”

Serhii and Lizzi survived.

In total, 12 people were killed in the attack, five of them children, the youngest of them Tymofii Gaidarzhi. The United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine called it “the deadliest incident for children in more than nine months.”

Mykhailo Voitov, who lived on the seventh floor, was also killed in the collapse. His wife, Angelina, had fled to Germany in 2022 with their 11-year-old daughter because she was distressed about the war. The couple had been married for 33 years, and before the war started, had never been apart for more than one day.

“Our daughter was very frightened,” Angelina said after her husband’s funeral. “She has only just begun to settle down. I don’t know how her father’s death will impact her.”

Ukrainian authorities stated that the defense forces shot down seven drones launched by the Russian forces into Odesa that night. One drone hit a residential building. Human Rights Watch was unable to determine whether Ukrainian forces attempted to intercept the drone.

Russia’s full-scale invasion has killed and injured tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians. According to the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, most of the casualties have been from the use in populated areas of explosive weapons, such as missiles, drones, and artillery. Use of such weapons in populated areas should be avoided because of the heightened risk of indiscriminate and often devastating impact on civilians and infrastructure and, in the long run, post-conflict reconstruction.

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