Smoke and blood as carnage returns to Moscow
The twisted bodies lay on the floor of Moscow's busiest airport Monday still tightly bundled in their heavy winter parkas and fur hats.
White smoke rolled through the international arrivals hall at Domodedovo airport in suffocating clouds as attendants were seen pushing luggage carts in apparent numb shock.
"I was 10 metres away from the explosion. Suddenly there was a flash and then very thick smoke appeared. Everyone panicked because we feared that there would be a second explosion," eyewitness Artyom Zhilenkov told AFP, still covered in the blood of victims.
He said many of the victims appeared to be taxi drivers who gather outside the arrivals hall.
Police and ambulance sirens screamed and security officials cleared the street for the impending arrival of top ministers and officials.
"Doctors are complaining that people are dying in ambulances," a law enforcement official told the Lifenews website. "In the confusion, someone sent a corpse with a skull blown in half to a hospital in Vidnoye."
But the scene inside the airport seemed surreally normal.
The light remained on as security men and attendants wondered in between the tightly-packed bodies. They carried on quiet conversations and pocked flashlights in the victims' faces to see better through the heavy smoke.
But Moscow radio stations flooded with witness accounts describing scenes of mayhem at which the initial survivors had little hope of receiving any medical help.
"They had such a tiny first aid station, it was horrific," a man who identified himself as Pavel told City FM radio.
"I went up to a woman, she was blinking her eyes. I saw that she was in a very bad state. But then I tried to help a man get out. And when I turned around, she was already gone."
Other witnesses said the blast wave also tore through a series of small cafes and tables that line one of the arrival hall's walls.
"A small girl had a torn wound on her right leg. They tried to tie her up with a bandage but there was no doctor," another witness named Sergei told the station.
"No one knew what to do. Then someone said that we had to get out, and people just ran."
Fyodor meanwhile said his plane had just arrived from Berlin when the captain reported that there was trouble at the airport.
The passengers were kept on board the plane for an extra hour but then led through the regular arrivals procedure -- which included going through customs control.
But most of the callers and other witnesses said they were currently overwhelmed by mixed emotions of relief at being alive and grief at having witnessed such senseless devastation.
"Suddenly the explosion happened. Me and my colleague were thrown against the wall, we were hit hard. We were only saved by the fact that there were a lot of people around us," a rental company worker named Alexei Spiridonov told LifeNews.
"We jumped up and tried to help wounded. Body parts lay around, there was blood everywhere. It was an awful picture."
The last major explosions tore through two Moscow subway trains during a regular Moscow morning rush hour in March. Those blasts killed 40 people and were claimed by rebels from the predominantly Muslim republic of Chechnya.
This one hit Domodedovo -- the pride of Moscow that was supposed to greet tens of thousands of foreign guests for the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2018 Football World Cup.
© 2011 AFP