Terror attack on Russian train station kills at least 9, injures 50 in St. Petersburg

Photo: CNN

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Eleven people were killed in a blast on the St. Petersburg metro on Monday, the Russian health ministry said, in what authorities described as a terrorist attack.

An explosion tore through a train as it was traveling between two stations in Russia’s second-biggest city, injuring dozens more.

A second device was found and defused at another station, Russia’s Anti-terrorist Committee said.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, which led to the shutdown of the entire metro system in St. Petersburg.

The blast happened as the train was traveling in a tunnel from Sennaya Ploshchad to Tekhnologichesky Institute stations in the center of the city. In the confusion, first reports suggested there were two blasts.

Photographs show the facade of one of the cars ripped off, while others showed passengers running from the Tekhnologichesky Institute station as it filled with smoke. Victims said they helped each other escape the train.

Bodies were seen strewn across a station platform outside the train. Bandaged and bloodied victims were carried out of the station by rescuers.

President Vladimir Putin, who had been in St Petersburg earlier in the day, said all causes were being investigated, including terrorism.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev described the explosion as a “terrorist act.”

Investigation underway

A spokesman for the National Anti-terrorism Committee said that the blast was caused by an unidentified explosive device in one of the train’s cars.

“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 second device was found at another metro station — Revolutionary Square — but was disabled, the committee said in statement.

Thirty-nine people have been hospitalized, six of whom had critical injuries, the health ministry said, putting the number of dead at 11.Other agencies in St Petersburg gave differing numbers for the dead and injured at various points during the day.

Authorities closed down the entire metro system, whose five lines carry 2.3 million people a day.

Putin statement

President Putin expressed his condolences to the victims and is talking to the FSB security services about the investigation, according to state media.

He said he was not ruling out any causes.

“The reasons for the explosion are unknown, so it’s too early to talk about it. The investigation will show what happened,” Putin said, beginning a meeting with Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko.

“Naturally, we always consider all options — both domestic and criminal, primarily incidents of a terrorist nature.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin had been in St. Petersburg speaking at a media event earlier Monday.

Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the defense committee in the Federation Council, said that the choice of St. Petersburg as a target may have been tied to Putin’s visit there.

“The choice of the place and the timing of these blasts is not accidental. The president of Russia is in [St. Petersburg], the media forum is taking place there, there are many journalists,” Ozerov said.

Medvedev said vicitms would be provided with “all necessary assistance.” He said in a Facebook message: “My most sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the explosion.”

St Petersburg is Russia’s second-largest city.