Eyewitnesses tell of the scenes of horror, while authorities still try to confirm if the second attack in two days was a suicide bombing.
VOLGOGRAD - Explosion, smoke, screams, confusion. Despair. Near-refusal to believe what has happened that creates a kind of total societal numbness. The second terrorist attack in two days has hit this city, with at least 30 killed in the twin attacks. This comes just two months after another attack, when a woman blew herself up on a bus in Volgograd, killing seven other people.
Monday's explosion ripped through a trolleybus 50 meters before its stop on Kachintsev Street in this city formerly known as Stalingrad. Trolleybus number 15 connects the “Seven Branches” bedroom community with the central part of the city, and it is always packed with people during the morning commute.
The terrorist act happened in a busy area near a market. The explosion was so powerful that the trolleybus literally turned inside out, the roof torn off like a can of food. “My stand shook from the explosion, people started running. I also ran out, but I only made it to the intersection - I started to feel sick. People said that there was a huge bloody mess around the trolleybus,” said Irina Nikitina, who works at the market near the explosion.
Men in uniform
Ruslan, who lives at Number 124 on Kachintsev Street, near where the explosion happened, said he was home when he heard a “very loud boom.”
“I ran out to the street, it was crazy, people were running. I saw the victims, and I wanted to help them but there was someone else there who said he was a doctor and that it was best not to touch the injured, because it could do more damage,” Ruslan said. Another witness, Aleksander Romanov had just parked his car and was crossing the street when the blast occurred. "There were soldiers nearby and they ran to the scene and didn’t let anyone else get close,” he said, noting there's a military office nearby. Romanov said he saw someone in a yellow uniform, “probably the trolleybus driver, but I couldn’t tell if he was alive or not.”
Most of the 27 injured, including an eight-year-old child, were sent to the hospital, with at least nine in critical condition. Eight of the injured have been flown to hospitals in Moscow. Doctors say the victims are suffering from multiple trauma and burns. So far 14 people are confirmed killed from Monday's attack. The death toll stands at 17 for Sunday's bombing at the Volgograd train station.
Immediately after Monday's explosion there were reports on social media of many different explosions around the city, none of which were confirmed. The police was asking citizens not to repeat unconfirmed reports so as to avoid spreading panic. Authorities are still trying to determine whether the bomb was placed in the trolleybus passenger area, or if the attack was carried by a suicide bomber.
A spontaneous candlelight vigil of some 200 people was held Monday night in the center of the city, which included representatives of extreme nationalist groups as well many ordinary citizens. A police spokesman warned that such an event could be a magnet for more violence.