St.Petersburg Metro explosion: police suspect suicide bombing after at least 11 killed by underground blast
Russian authorities said they were investigating a suspected suicide bombing on Monday after a blast on the Saint Petersburg subway system killed 11 people and wounded dozens.
The blast, which struck a crowded metro train near the historic city centre at 2:20 local time, and came as Vladimir Putin was visiting the city.
Shortly afterwards a larger, unexploded device was reported to have been found at one of the citys busiest metro stations, prompting authorities to close the entire underground transport system. Search warrants were issued for two people.
“A blast occurred at Sennaya Ploshchad metro station, a police source told the Russian news agency Tass, several people have been injured.”
Witnesses on board the crowded train said it was shaken by a thundering clap that filled the carriages with smoke shortly after it left the station.
We all moved to the opposite end of the wagon, people jammed together and two women passed out. This all was happening while the train was still moving, it didn’t stop, Polina, a student who was in the neighbouring carriage, told Gazeta.ru.
The driver of the train won praise for deciding to continue to the next station, Technologichesky Institute, rather than stopping in the tunnel, a move that investigators said probably saved lives and made it easier for rescuers to reach the injured.
Photographs from the station platform showed a blue train carriage with its door reduced mangled and twisted by the force of the blast.
Videos posted on social media showed a carriage wreathed in smoke and dazed and frightened passengers trying to exit the subway tunnels, while others knelt over the bodies of the wounded and the dead.
“People were bleeding, their hair burned. We were told to move to the exit, because the movement stopped, a witness told Russia’s Life News.
“People just fled. My girlfriend was in the next car that exploded. She said that he began to shake. When she came out, she saw that people were mutilated.”
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, who was meeting his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in a suburb of St Petersburg at the time, expressed his condolences after the “possible terror attack”.
The city authorities, and if needed, the federal authorities, will take the necessary measures to help the families of those affected by the blast, he said.
The reasons behind it are not clear yet, and so it would be premature to speak about them, he cautioned.