The Moscow massacre:

Briton among dozens killed in airport suicide attack

 

Moscow

A suicide bomber blew himself up inside the arrivals hall of Moscow’s busiest airport yesterday, as terror once again struck in the heart of Russia.

The attack killed at least 35 people and injured around 170. There was at least one British victim among the dead.

Witnesses at Domodedovo airport said that the bomber shouted: "I will kill you all," before triggering the blast that sent ball-bearings and shrapnel across the international arrivals hall at around 4.30pm local time (1.30pm GMT), shortly after two flights from the UK had landed.

Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian President, promised to track down those responsible for the blast. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion fell on militants from the North Caucasus, where the Russian authorities are engaged in a battle with Islamic militants.

The Foreign Office this morning confirmed that Gordon Cousland, a British citizen, had died in the attacks. They were said to be “urgently investigating” reports of a second British victim. The Russian authorities said there had been two Britons killed in the blast.

British Airways and BMI use the airport and both had flights landing within an hour of the blast. Witnesses spoke of an all-engulfing pall of smoke, which broke to reveal a horrific scene.

“It was a huge sound, and suddenly I could see bodies everywhere. I don’t know how many. Maybe 10, maybe 20,” said Alexei Spiridonov, an airport worker who was just a few dozen metres away from the blast. “It was about a minute and a half before people started running in to help.”

Photographs taken in the immediate aftermath of the blast and posted onTwitter showed bodies and severed limbs strewn across the floor, as well as pools of blood and small burning fires. Within a couple of minutes, the airport medical and police teams were on hand, some using baggage trolleys to wheel out the injured. Later, dozens of ambulances ferried them to hospitals across Moscow.

“Everyone around me died,” said Artyom Zhilenkov, 30, a driver who was waiting for an arriving passenger from Dusseldorf. His clothes were caked with dried mud and blood. “The guy standing next to me was torn to pieces,” he told The Independent.He attributed his survival to dunking himself in icy water last week in an Orthodox Christian ritual, but admitted to being shaken up. “I’ve been scared to go on the Metro becauseof the bombs there; now they’re bombing the airports,” he said.

Mr Spiridonov said that he believed most of the victims would have been people waiting to meet passengers off the flights. Taxi drivers usually congregate at the point where passengers exit from baggage reclaim, trying to drum up custom. Mark Green, who had just arrived on a BritishAirways flight, said he heard the huge explosion as he left the terminal.

“Literally, it shook you,” he said. “A lot of alarms… were going off and people started flowing out of the terminal, some of whom were covered in blood,” he told the BBC. “One gentleman had a pair of jeans on that was ripped and his thigh from his groin to his knee was covered in blood.”

Mr Medvedev has called the rebellion in the North Caucasus region the biggest threat to the security of Russia. It is led by Doku Umarov who says he wants to create an Islamic caliphate across the restive North Caucasus region.

Militants have vowed to take the bombing campaign to Moscow and attack transport and economic targets.

The Interfax news agency, citing law enforcement sources, said the head of the suspected bomber had been found at the scene, and Russian television reported that he had been a man aged between 30 and 35, who had an “Arabic” appearance; possibly from the North Caucasus.

Moscow suffered its worst attack in six years in March 2010 when two female suicide bombers from Dagestan set off explosives in the Metro, killing 40 people. The Russian leadership has staked its reputation on quelling the rebellion.

Vladimir Putin, now the Prime Minister, launched a war in 1999 to regain control over Chechnya, but the insurgency continues and has spread to neighbouring regions. Occasionally, the fight comes to Moscow, such as in last year’s Metro bombings, or in 2004, when Domodedovo was again the target.

Then, two female suicide bombers blew themselves up in midair, having boarded two flights that took off from the airport, after bribing security officials to let them on to their planes without checks.

“Security will be strengthened at large transport hubs,” Mr Medvedev wrote on Twitter yesterday. “We mourn the victims of the terrorist attack at Domodedovo airport. The organisers will be tracked down and punished.”

In Washington, President Barack Obama condemned the “outrageous act of terrorism” in Moscow.

Extraordinarily, within an hour of the blast, the airport was back running at full capacity, with arriving international passengers passing through the same hall.“They’ve just covered up the blast area in tarpaulin,” said one British woman arriving from London three hours after the blast. “Everything was normal at passport control but there was a horrible smell and we could see some smashed shop windows.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Recruitment Genius: Transport Administrator / Planner

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee