Scenes of anguish and relief as hostages are freed

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Dozens of bloodied and semi-naked schoolchildren were seen rushing away from the chaos of the Russian school siege today as special forces stormed the compound to bring a dramatic end to the three-day stand-off.

Dozens of bloodied and semi-naked schoolchildren were seen rushing away from the chaos of the Russian school siege today as special forces stormed the compound to bring a dramatic end to the three-day stand-off.

Dazed and traumatised, some naked and most dressed only in their underwear, the young pupils ran and stumbled from the sports hall where they have been held since Wednesday after troops blasted a hole in a wall to offer them an escape route.

Amid heavy gunfire, anguished parents raced towards them, many carrying their children away from the danger as intense fighting continued around the site.

One man dashed to embrace two youngsters, holding them aloft in the air as many around them wept uncontrollably.

Hundreds of parents had held a nervous vigil close to the scene at the town's House of Culture, the hours punctuated by sporadic explosions which raised the terrifying prospect that their children could be dead.

With the crack of gunfire still resounding at the scene this morning, shocked hostages wandered aimlessly through the crowds of adults and camouflage-clad troops.

Exhausted and dehydrated, many collapsed on to banks of stretchers placed on strips of grass at the side of pavements.

Close by, other stretchers carried the corpses of some of the 10 people feared dead.

Ambulance crews darted through the throng as they raced inside the premises to recover more of the victims.

One boy, looking pale and anguished, told reporters he had been so shocked at his release he was unable to recognise his own parents.

He said that the children had been denied water and had become so thirsty that they had been forced to drink their own urine.

Hostages also claimed that temperatures inside the school's sports hall had become so intense that the pupils were forced to remove their clothes.

Scores of ambulances arrived at the scene as the first youngsters dashed to freedom and locals brought a stream of cars and trucks to the site to help transport the injured to hospital.

As attempts to free the captured pupils and teachers became more frantic, residents and parents joined paramedics to make forays inside the school.

More than 200 are feared wounded and giant yellow tents were erected at the site to allow paramedics to offer first aid to the injured.

Many teenagers and younger pupils were seen with bandages covering wounds to their hands, feet and faces.

Other children were seen being pulled unconscious from the school, apparently suffering from burns and heavy bleeding.

Comments