Russia mourns metro blast dead; toll 39

MOSCOW: A woman has died in a clinic from wounds suffered in the double suicide bombing of the Moscow subway, officials said today, raising the death toll to 39 as the country entered a day of mourning.

Five people remain in critical condition out of 71 hospitalised after the blasts that were blamed on Chechen rebels, city health department official Andrei Seltsovsky told the Rossiya-24 state news channel. Only eight victims had been formally identified, he said.

The preliminary investigation found that female suicide bombers detonated belts of explosives during the Monday morning rush-hour at two central Moscow subway stations. It was the first terrorist activity in the Russian capital for years.

Flags flew at half staff on government buildings and at the Kremlin as a day of national mourning began. Entertainment events and shows on television were cancelled. Services were to be held at several churches.

Heightened transportation security remained in effect across the capital and in cities across Russia.

Police with machine guns and sniffer dogs patrolled subway entrances. Yesterday’s first explosion took place just before 8 am at the Lubyanka station in central Moscow. About 45 minutes later, a second blast hit the Park Kultury station on the same subway line, which is near the renowned Gorky Park. In both cases, the bombs were detonated as the trains pulled into the stations and the doors were opening.

Debate raged in the Russian media as to the exact motive for the attacks.