Moscow saw its second suicide attack in less than 12 months on Monday as a terrorist assault on the Russian capital’s busiest airport left over 30 dead, officials said.
Preliminary reports suggest a bomb was detonated by a suicide bomber as passengers arrived at Domodedovo airport’s international arrivals gate at 4:40 p.m. (13:40 GMT).
Health and emergency officials said 35 people died and many dozens more were injured.
Planes from London and Brussels, as well as Greece, Ukraine and Egypt, had landed in the 30 minutes preceding the attack. A British Airways plane heading for Domodedovo returned to London when the news broke.
Law enforcement officials said the power of the blast was equal to 5 kg of TNT and that the bomb was packed with metal objects to cause maximum damage. A RIA Novosti correspondent at the scene reported floors and staircases covered in blood.
YouTube footage showed the bodies of the dead and injured lying in a smoke-filled arrivals zone.
Media reports of second suicide bomber have not been confirmed.
A visibly shaken President Dmitry Medvedev told officials in a televised meeting that, "From the preliminary information we have, it was a terrorist attack.”
He also said that an investigation would be carried out into how the attacker had managed to strike.
"After previous similar events, we passed appropriate legislation, and we have to check how it has been applied,” he said.
“Obviously there have been lapses. We will have to look into this,” he added.
Medvedev also pledged assistance to the families of the dead and those injured in the attack and later announced he would postpone his visit to the Davos economic forum in Switzerland.
Security has been tightened at other airports in the capital and the city’s metro system, which was hit by twin suicide bombings in March 2010. Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov claimed responsibility for those attacks, which killed 39 people, and warned that “war” was coming to Russia’s streets.
A law enforcement source told RIA Novosti that the security services were aware that terrorists were planning an attack on a Moscow airport, but were unable to locate and detain the three suspects they had been searching for.
Comments by Russian bloggers suggested that there was free access, without security checks, to the arrivals gates.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was "deeply disturbed" by the attacks.
Two planes which took off from the airport, Moscow’s busiest, were blown up by female Chechen suicide bombers in August 2004 killing a total of 90 people.
An attack on a high-speed luxury train between Moscow and St Petersburg killed 27 people in November 2009.
MOSCOW, January 24 (RIA Novosti)