An explosion ripped through the international arrivals hall at Moscow's busiest airport on Monday, killing 35 people and wounding about 180, officials said. The Russian president called it a terror attack.
The state RIA Novosti news agency, citing law enforcement sources, said the mid-afternoon explosion at Domodedovo Airport may have been caused by a suicide bomber.
There were no reports of any Israeli casualties in the blast. The Foreign Ministry said El Al flight scheduled to depart for Moscow on Monday and overnight Tuesday have been cancelled. The ministry said all El Al employees working at the airport in Moscow were unharmed.
Shiyeh Daitem, a representative of the ZAKA voluntary rescue organization in Russia, said he does not know of any Jews who were injured during the explosion at an airport in Moscow.
"Large security forces have been deployed at the airport and are checking everyone thoroughly. I've never seen anything like it," he said. (Yael Branovsky)
Yehuda, an Israeli who was supposed to board a flight from Moscow to Tel Aviv, spoke to Ynet about the "scandalous" security at the airport, even after the attack.
"They (security personnel) continue to check only luggage, and anyone can enter freely." he said. "
Moscow resident Victoria told Ynet, "In the parking lot there is a side entrance from which one can enter the airport without being checked. There are no police officers at the entrance and no metal detectors. Everyone knows about this entrance. It angers me that our government is not doing anything for our security."
Police officials in Moscow said Russia's secret service received warnings of a possible terror attack. They said security personnel searched for three suspects but were unable to prevent them from entering the airport.
An amateur video posted on YouTube showed the terminal engulfed by smoke, with a pile of bodies in one section and other bodies scattered around the floor. Luggage lay strewn across the ground and there were several small fires. A dazed man in a suit pushed a baggage cart through the carnage.
"From the preliminary information we have, it was a terror attack," President Dmitry Medvedev told officials in a televised briefing.
He ordered authorities to beef up security at Moscow's two other commercial airports and other key transport facilities, including the subway system, the target of past terror attacks. He said the explosion demonstrated that security regulations had been breached.
Medvedev postponed his planned Tuesday departure for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he was to give the opening address on Wednesday.
Although there have been repeated attacks on the Moscow subway and on Russian trains - most blamed on Chechen militants - the bombing Monday was the first involving a Russian airport since 2004.
Sergei Lavochkin, who was waiting in the arrivals hall for a friend to arrive from Cuba, said he saw emergency teams carrying bloodied people out of the terminal.
Evacuating wounded after blast (Photo: Reuters)
"I heard a loud bang, saw plastic panels falling down from the ceiling and heard people screaming. Then people started running away," Lavochkin told Rossiya 24 television.
Mark Green, a British Airways passenger who had just arrived at the airport, told BBC television he heard the huge explosion as he left the terminal.
"Literally, it shook you," he said. "As we were putting the bags in the car a lot of alarms ... were going off and people started flowing out of the terminal, some of whom were covered in blood."
"One gentleman had a pair of jeans on that was ripped and his thigh from his groin to his knee was covered in blood," he added.
Green said thousands of people were in the terminal at the time of the blast.
Another wounded man evacuated (Photo: AP)
Sofia Malyavina, a spokeswoman for the Social Development and Health Ministry, said 31 people were killed and about 130 were wounded. She said 56 ambulances were sent to treat the victims.
"The airport is filled with smoke," she said on Rossiya 24.
Built in 1964, Domodedovo is located 26 miles (42 kilometers) southeast of the center of Moscow and is the largest of the three major airports that serve the Russian capital, serving over 22 million people last year. It is generally regarded as Moscow's most up-to-date airport, but its security procedures have been called into question.
In 2004, two suicide bombers were able to board planes at Domodedovo by buying tickets illegally from airport personnel. The female bombers blew themselves up in mid-air, killing all 90 people aboard the two flights.
Currently 77 airlines offer regular flights to Domodedovo, serving 241 international and national routes, according to airport's website.
The airport insists that security is one of its top priorities, claiming on its website that its "cutting-edge operations technology guarantees the safety of passengers' and guests' lives."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his condolences to the Russian people and the families of those killed in the terror attack.
"Terror is international and so the response to it must be international. If we unite we will suppress the terrorists and thwart their plans," he said.
Terrorists have previously targeted other transportation centers in Moscow.
Twin blasts in the subway last March killed 39 people and wounded more than 60 people. Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov claimed responsibility for that attack, warning Russian leaders that "the war is coming to their cities."
In December 2009, Chechen rebels claimed responsibility for blowing up a high-speed train between Moscow and St. Petersburg, an attack that killed 26 people and injured scores.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was "deeply disturbed" by the reported terror attacks.
"I strongly condemn it," he said on Twitter. "NATO and Russia stand together in the fight against terrorism."
Roni Sofer, Ronen Medzini, Boaz Fyler and Yael Branovsky contributed to the report
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