- Nine people confirmed dead in explosion;
- Explosion timed to Putin’s visit to St Petersburg;
- Bomb packed in suit case and left on aboard train;
- Authorities successfully deactivated another bomb;
- CCTV camera captures face of suspected terrorist;
- Metro station locked down as Russia is placed on high alert;
Scores of people have been reported dead after an explosion rocks Russia’s St Petersburg metro leaving dozens injured and nine confirmed casualties in what authorities Monday say is a terrorist attack.
The explosion occurred in between two St. Petersburg metro station, Sennaya Ploschad station and Tekhnologichesky Institute station leaving children, a local media reported dead.
Authorities of the St Petersburg governor’s office confirmed that scores of people sustained various degree of injuries right in the centre of St Petersburg.
Initially it was difficult to confirm the number of explosives that went off as authorities cited two, but emergency personnel confirmed just one blast detonated in between the two metro stations.
President Vladimir Putin who was meeting with Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko in Russia’s second largest city Monday has been well informed of the attack.
Promptly addressing the nation in a statement, Russian leader Vladimir Putin said: “The causes are not clear, so it is premature to speak of this. The investigation will reveal.
“However, obviously we are always considering all options – technical and criminal, first of all, manifestations of a terrorist nature,” the president said.
He added: “The city authorities, and, if required, the federal authorities, will take all necessary measures to support the families of those killed and those injured.”
Meanwhile, the Russian prosecutor’s office have since said they are treating the incident as a terror attack.
A spokesman for the National Anti-terrorism Committee said that the blast was caused by an unidentified explosive device in one of the cars.
The explosion tore through a train as it was traveling between two stations in Russia’s second-biggest city. Around 50 people were injured, the governor’s office in St. Petersburg noted.
“So far, we say it was an unidentified explosive device as investigators and the Federal Security Service’s bomb specialists are to establish the exact cause of this explosion,” Andrei Przhezdomsky told state-run Russia 24.
A device was found in a second St. Petersburg metro station — Revolutionary Square — but was made safe, the committee said in statement.
At the Ploshad Vosstaniya metro station, a second unexploded device is believed to have been found and authorities have confirmed it has since been deactivated.
Survivors who sustained various degrees of injuries were seen bleeding on a platform as passengers and emergency crew rushed to their aid amid a flurry of smoke at 2.30pm local time (12.30pm GMT).
According to Russia news agency Interfax, the explosive device was left in the carriage in a briefcase. Interfax added that the organiser of the attack had been captured on CCTV.
The explosive device is believed to have been rigged with shrapnel and 200 grams of TNT.
President Putin said: “I want to express words of the most sincere regret, sympathy to relatives of those killed and injured. I have already talked to the heads of special services, with the FSB director. Law enforcement agencies and special services are working, they will do everything in order to reveal the causes of what happened.”
In his comments, Senator Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the Russian upper house of parliament’s Defence Committee, said the timing of the explosion might be connected to President Vladimir Putin’s visit to St Petersburg Monday.
Ozerov said: “The choice of the place and the timing of these blasts is not accidental, the president of Russia is in [Saint Petersburg], the media forum is taking place there, there are many journalists.”
Eyewitness recount ordeal
Victims who survived the attack in the metro car said they helped one another as they prepared for the worst possible out – even expecting death.
“In the metro car, everyone expected death, if I can say that. After the explosion, everyone expected consequences. Then we were taken out, and people began to help each other, brought others out. Most were covered in blood,” a passenger on the train told TASS.
A passenger at the Sennaya station, Stanislav Listyev, said he felt the shock of the bomb when it exploded and saw smoke coming out of the tunnel.
“I was going going down the escalator at Sennaya square at about half past 2, and at that moment I felt an explosion wave underneath. Everything was filled with smoke, people started panicking. So the trains stopped and almost immediately the evacuation started,” Listyev told CNN.
Alexander told state news agency Sputnik: “I saw people being carried from the subway. This was horrible.”
The eyewitness that confirmed the explosion to TASS said early information indicated that some 10 people died, noting that the exact number of casualties is still unestablished. However, the death toll was later revised to nine by authorities.
“At the moment there are about 50 injured, doctors are working with them. The number of ambulances there at the moment is 17. It will increase,” said the governor’s press secretary, Andrei Kibitov.
All other transport systems in the city are free to use for the rest of the day.
A statement from the metro company, said: “The entrance and exit to Tekhnologichesky Institut and Sennaya Ploshchad stations are closed, the trains are running without stopping.
“There is an evacuation of passengers.”
Russian Police have since closed all stations in the western Russian city and 17 ambulance crews are treating the injured.
The nationalities of the victims has not yet been disclosed.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Tweeted his shock at the incident.
He said: “Horrified by news of explosion in St Petersburg. My sympathies are with the victims and their families.”
The UK Foreign Office said: “We are liaising with Russian authorities following explosions on the St Petersburg metro.
“Our sympathies are with those affected and their loved ones.”
‘The US Embassy in Russia has expressed its condolences’
A tweet in Russian, said: “Shocked and saddened by explosions in St Pete and the resulting deaths and injuries.
“Our hearts go out to victims and families.”
The hashtag #PrayForStPetersburg is now trending on Twitter as hundreds of people across the globe express their sympathy and shock.
It will be recalled that this is the first explosion on a Russian train since December 2013 after a suicide bomber killed 18 people and injured 44 at Volgograd-1 station in the city of Volgograd.
Moscow has been under attack by Chechen militants in past years. Chechen rebel leaders have frequently threatened further attacks.
At least 38 people were killed in 2010 when two female suicide bombers detonated bombs on packed Moscow metro trains.
Russia’s metro system has also been shut down as a precaution, while the rest of Russia in on high alert.
Credits: Express, CNN, Stingged.com