NewsSurvivors share harrowing tales from deadly Moscow-adjacent terror attack

Survivors share harrowing tales from deadly Moscow-adjacent terror attack

In Friday's attack outside Moscow, at least 142 people were killed.
In Friday's attack outside Moscow, at least 142 people were killed.
10:32 AM EDT, March 26, 2024

142 people lost their lives in a terrorist attack near Moscow, which the Islamic State later claimed responsibility for. A journalist chose to depict the event and its aftermath from the perspective of witnesses who miraculously avoided death.

The terrorist attack on the evening of March 22 in Krasnogorsku, near Moscow, still looms over Russia. Extremists from the Islamic State invaded the Crocus City Hall concert hall, where the band Piknik was scheduled to perform, resulting in 142 fatalities.

Recent media coverage has been flooded with videos and photos of the attack. However, what was the experience like for witnesses who were forced to flee to survive?

An article from Vot Tak — the Russian-language department of Belsat — offers insight, thanks to a correspondent who was among the first on the scene after the tragedy.

Witnesses recount the chaos, death, and explosions during the attack near Moscow

Eyewitnesses report that the terrorists quickly aimed to inflict maximal fatalities. They entered the complex through various entrances, fired at point-blank range to ensure no one was spared, and also set the building ablaze, both to claim more victims and attempt to destroy the building entirely.

- Dressed in camouflage, carrying backpacks and automatic weapons, the attackers stormed in through multiple entries. Only those present can truly convey the sequence of events. At least one attacker opened fire in the foyer, and two more in the concert hall. Victims were targeted at close range. Subsequently, the assailants hurled Molotov cocktails to ignite the hall before retreating.

Besides targeting Crocus City Hall, the nearby Vegas shopping center was evacuated, where another concert was set to occur that day. In the chaos, people sought various escape routes. Sadly, some sought to exploit the tragedy, with taxi fares skyrocketing, though it's unclear whether this was due to the drivers or the system's operators.

A visibly distressed girl, her nose bleeding, tries calling her mother for a ride home. Another individual, draped in a disposable white blanket, navigates through large puddles. Taxi fares immediately after the attack surged to New Year’s Eve rates: a 20-minute journey from the Vegas shopping center could cost up to 1200 rubles (about $16). Hence, even those in shock made their way to the Miakinino metro station, which remained operational despite one of its exits opening near the concert hall.

As each minute passed, the situation deteriorated. Molotov cocktails led to the concert hall's roof catching fire, eventually collapsing a few hours later. The search for possible survivors or their remains persisted until the end, though the spreading fire drastically impeded rescue efforts.

Ambulances at the concert hall's entrance were loaded with stretchers. Beyond the barricade set up by the emergency services, new bodies continued to be retrieved and left beside the ambulances. As the fire gained ground, hope faded for finding any survivors. Amidst the fire, sounds of explosions and cracking raised questions about their cause, whether they were from explosive materials or if structures were collapsing under heat pressure.

While some attempted to address the situation with a hint of humor, the underlying terror of the attack was palpable. A photographer, who was meant to cover the ill-fated concert, vividly recounted his evacuation to a reporter.

- So much for my photo shoot. I was on stage when I heard 'bam-bam.' I saw people running, and I ran too, thinking I’d be shot dead. Luckily, I didn’t encounter the fire, so I escaped burns.
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