Saturday 20 January 2018

What we know about the St Petersburg subway explosion

By Jessica Pitocchi

Ten people died in the blast and 43 others were taken to hospital.

Russian police are investigating a deadly bomb blast on a subway train in St Petersburg as President Vladimir Putin visited the city.

Here’s what we know so far about the incident:

What happened?

At around 2.20pm local time, a bomb blast tore through a subway train as it travelled between stations in St Petersburg.

Scenes shared on social media taken from the Technology Institute subway station showed people lying injured on the ground outside a train with a mangled door.

Within two hours of the blast, Russian authorities had found and deactivated another bomb at a separate busy St Petersburg subway station, Vosstaniya Square, the anti-terror agency said.

How many casualties are there?

After a few hours of differing casualty tolls, health minister Veronika Skvortsova said 10 people died in the blast.

City health authorities said 43 others were taken to hospital.

It’s not known whether any foreigners were among the victims.

What happened to the subway train?

The driver of the targeted train chose to continue on to the next station, Technological Institute, after the blast – a decision praised by Russia’s Investigative Committee as aiding evacuation efforts and reducing the danger that passengers would die by trying to walk along the subway’s electrified tracks.

Then the entire St Petersburg subway system, which serves some two million passengers a day, was shut down and evacuated.

Has anyone claimed responsibility?

No, not immediately.

Investigators are looking into whether the explosion was a terror attack.

Has this kind of thing happened before in Russia?

Russian transport facilities have previously been the target of terror attacks.

Suicide bombings in the Moscow subway on March 29 2010 killed 40 people and wounded more than 100 people, and a Moscow-to-St Petersburg train was also bombed on November 27 2009 in an attack that left 26 dead and some 100 injured.

Russian airports have also been targets – a suicide bomber blew himself up at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport on January 24 2011 which killed 37 people and wounded 180, and the same airport in August 2004 saw Islamic suicide bombers board two planes and bring them down, killing a total of 90 people.

How did President Putin react?

Putin was in St Petersburg at the time to meet with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, and went ahead with the talks after appearing on Russian television to speak about the incident.

Speaking on television from Constantine Palace in the city, he said investigators were looking into whether the explosion on the train was a terror attack or if it had some other cause.

He also offered his condolences to the families of those killed.

How have other world leaders reacted?

President Donald Trump later called the deadly bomb blast “absolutely a terrible thing”.

President Trump spoke before a working lunch with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

He said of the attack “it’s happening all over the world”.

Press Association

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