Wednesday 18 July 2018

Police in World Cup host city say 16 venues evacuated as part of a drill

Ambulance arrives at the Topos Congress hotel in the soccer World Cup host city of Rostov-on-Don: REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Ambulance arrives at the Topos Congress hotel in the soccer World Cup host city of Rostov-on-Don: REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Julien Pretot and Marko Djurica

Police in the World Cup host city of Rostov-on-Don said on Wednesday they had evacuated 16 venues, including hotels and restaurants, as part of a drill.

One of the venues, the Topos Congress-Hotel, was evacuated due to a suspected bomb threat, police earlier told Reuters.

Increasingly isolated on the global stage, Russia is keen to use the World Cup to project an image of stability and strength in the country. Authorities have vowed to host a safe event and any security incidents involving fans could jeopardise Russia's efforts.

The Topos Congress-Hotel in Rostov-on-Don is listed as an official World Cup hotel by soccer's world governing body FIFA, but none of the competing teams are staying there, according to official documents.

Police at the scene said the hotel had been evacuated due to a bomb threat and sniffer dogs were seen entering the building, a Reuters witness said.

Security services were seen questioning people on the street outside the hotel, next to emergency vehicles and a crowd of around 60 evacuated guests.

Hotel staff said 210 people were currently staying at the hotel.

The southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don has so far hosted four matches in the World Cup, including Croatia's 2-1 win over Iceland earlier on Tuesday. The next scheduled match at the venue is on Monday.

The city is just 67 km (42 miles) from Russia's border with eastern Ukraine, where rebels backed by Moscow have been fighting Ukrainian troops since 2014, and its close proximity to the conflict had caused security concerns ahead of the tournament.

Reuters

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