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Fatal Blast Reported At Moscow Airport Terminal


Moscow's busiest airport was rocked by a huge explosion today, what Russian officials are saying is an apparent terrorist attack. The Health Ministry is putting the number of dead at 30 or more, plus scores injured. Russia's local news agencies quote witnesses as saying the international arrivals hall quickly filled with so much smoke it was hard to see how many had died or were injured.

This attack follows a series of suicide bombings and other attacks in Russia. The Kremlin has blamed these earlier attacks on Muslim militants fighting for greater freedom from Moscow.


For more, we're joined by NPR's David Greene, who is at the airport now.

And, David, describe the scene around you.

DAVID GREENE: Hi, Renee. It's really surreal. I mean, the Russian way of dealing with events like this is to get back to business as usual as quickly as possible. That happened last spring when there were bombings on the Moscow subway, and here at the airport, you know, one entrance is shut down. There are emergency vehicles and that's where witnesses describe the really horrific scene several hours ago. But aside from that, you know, most of the airport is open. There are domestic flights that are still taking off, passengers arriving with their luggage. Some of whom might not even know that any of this took place until they get to the airport for a trip. So it's a strange scene.

MONTAGNE: Have you been able to get some eyewitness accounts or people there who are working there - have they been able to tell you what they saw happened?

GREENE: We just got here, Renee, and we spoke to one gentleman who worked at one of the rental car counters. And he described, you know, hearing the blast and then just seeing people running in terror. And what other eyewitnesses have told Russian media is it was just bloody and chaotic.


I mean, as you said, the airport terminal filled with smoke, people saw bodies being carried out, injured people on luggage carts, you know, bodies that were really dismembered being rushed to ambulances.

And, you know, if you've been through an international terminal, Renee, and -you know, it's pretty routine. You come through Customs. You go down - you know, you come to immigration, you go down, you get your luggage, you go through Customs. I've been through this terminal here in Domodedovo airport many times, and you can imagine people just going through that routine. And as we understand, you know, the explosion took place in the baggage area as people were, you know, arriving for their flights and collecting their luggage and ready to, you know, either begin a trip or head home.

MONTAGNE: Now, have authorities said anything about whether this was a suicide bombing, or something else? And also, who are they saying might be responsible? If they're saying militants, who might they be? Give us a little quick background.

GREENE: I mean, it's pretty early. President Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, he's canceled his trip to Davos for an economic forum. He is calling it an act of terror. He said he is going to go after whoever carried this attack out. You know, previous attacks in Russia, like the Metro bombings last year, officials linked to people who came up from the Russian Caucasus, the north Caucasus, which, you know, there is an Islamic insurgency down there and, you know, terrorist attacks have often been linked to that part of the country.

But here, you know, it's not clear yet. It's very early, Renee. There are a lot of conflicting reports about whether this might have been something that was planned for on an airplane that landed, if it was planned by someone here on the ground, and there are planes coming from different parts of Russia. Coming from all over the former Soviet Union, coming from the United States, coming from Europe, coming from the Middle East. So a lot of possibilities that I think officials are going to have to explore, but they are calling it an act of terror at this point.

MONTAGNE: Okay. Well, NPR will follow events as they unfold today. NPR's David Greene, thank you very much.

GREENE: Thank you, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Speaking to us from Moscow's main airport where earlier today an explosion appears to have killed dozens and scores have been injured. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.