Most probably a suicide bomber has caused an explosion at Moscow’s largest International Airport, Domodedovo. First reports claimed 31 people dead and more than 130 injured, but by the evening this has increased to 35 lost lives and about 170 injured of whom 70 have been hospitalized…
The bomb blew up on the arrival side at 16:32 Moscow time, close to the international baggage claim area, and the police believes it might have been a suicide bomber – but some reports mention a bomb in a bag that exploded too late and may have been targeted for an airliner. Smoke has filled up the airport terminal, all international flights are now rerouted to other Moscow airports and the Russian capital has been put under terror alert state. Russia Today reported that the explosion had the power of 7 kg of TNT and that some eyewitnesses say there were two explosions.
“From the preliminary information we have, it was a terror attack,” President Dmitry Medvedev told officials in a televised briefing. Medvedev postponed his planned Tuesday departure for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he was to give the opening address on Wednesday.
Although there have been repeated attacks on the Moscow subway and on Russian trains – most blamed on Chechen militants – the bombing Monday is the first involving a Russian airport since 2004 when two suicide bombers were able to board planes at Domodedovo by buying tickets illegally from airport personnel. The female bombers 7 years ago blew themselves up in mid-air, killing all 90 people aboard the two flights.
Sergei Lavochkin told Rossiya 24 television that he was waiting in the arrivals hall for a friend to arrive from Cuba, when he saw emergency teams carrying bloodied people out of the terminal. “I heard a loud bang, saw plastic panels falling down from the ceiling and heard people screaming. Then people started running away.”
Mark Green, a British Airways passenger who had just arrived at the airport, told BBC television he heard the huge explosion as he left the terminal. “Literally, it shook you,” he said. “As we were putting the bags in the car a lot of alarms … were going off and people started flowing out of the terminal, some of whom were covered in blood.” “One gentleman had a pair of jeans on that was ripped and his thigh from his groin to his knee was covered in blood,” he added. He also said thousands of people were in the terminal at the time of the blast.
Some reports indicate that airport workers even broke a brick wall close to the baggage carousel so that the people stuck inside after the blast could leave the terminal. On the other hand, those who could get out were reportedly faced with the “news” that the Taxi drivers have rapidly raised their prices to 3-5 folds… But the train service (Aeroexpress) was free for those leaving the airport.
Built in 1964, Domodedovo is located 26 miles (42 kilometers) southeast of the center of Moscow and is the largest of the three major airports that serve the Russian capital, serving over 22 million people last year. It is generally regarded as Moscow’s most up-to-date airport, but its security procedures have been called into question.
Currently 77 airlines offer regular flights to Domodedovo, serving 241 international and national routes, according to the airport’s website.
Security at Moscow’s two other airports – Vnukovo and Sheremetyevo has been strengthened. The airports are operating in terror threat regime which means extended security checks, and most probably longer queues, etc.