Attack at Moscow airport called terrorism
Driver Artyom Zhilenkov said he was standing just a few yards (meters) away from a man who may have been the suicide bomber. He saw an explosion on or near the man, whose suitcase was on fire.
Zhilenkov said he initially thought he himself had been injured, but doctors said he was just coated in the blood of others.
“The guy standing next to me was torn to pieces,” he said.
Car rental agent Alexei Spiridonov, 25, was at his desk when the blast struck about 100 yards (meters) away and “threw me against the wall,” he said.
“People were panicking, rushing out of the hall or looking for their relatives. There were people just lying in blood,” Spiridonov said.
Sergei Lavochkin, who was waiting for a friend to arrive from Cuba, told Rossiya 24 television: “I heard a loud bang, saw plastic panels falling down from the ceiling and heard people screaming. Then people started running away.”
The Emergencies Ministry said 35 people were killed, 86 hospitalized with injuries and 94 were given medical treatment. Among the dead were two British travelers, Markin said.
Domodedovo was briefly closed to air traffic immediately after the blast, but soon reopened. Hours later, passengers arriving for their flights lined up outside waiting to pass through metal detectors that had been installed at the entrances.
Aviation security experts have been warning since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that the crowds at many airports present tempting targets to suicide bombers. Arrivals halls are usually open to anyone.
“Airports are by their nature crowded places, with meeters, greeters, commercial businesses, and so on,” said Philip Baum, the editor of Aviation Security International, a London-based publication.
The attack also called into question Russia’s ability to safely host major international events like the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and the 2018 World Cup.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter was in St. Petersburg over the weekend to formally award Russia the 2018 World Cup. Prior to the signing, Blatter told Putin that he was certain FIFA had made the right choice.
Built in 1964, Domodedovo is located 26 miles (42 kilometers) southeast of Moscow and is the largest of the three major airports that serve the capital, handling more than 22 million people last year. It is generally regarded as Moscow’s most modern airport, but its security has been called into question.
The airport insists security is one of its top priorities, saying on its website that its “cutting-edge operations technology guarantees the safety of passengers’ and guests’ lives.”
It says 77 airlines offer regular flights to Domodedovo, serving 241 international and national routes.