The Russian President Boris Yeltsin has urged Russians to remain calm after a blast at a Moscow apartment block killed 55 people. In a televised adress President Yeltsin vowed a tough, swift response to the attack. The 8-storey building was destroyed in the blast and rescue workers say there is little hope of finding many survivors. No group has claimed responsibility for the explosion.
Today was supposed to have been a national day of mourning in Russia, as over 150 people have been killed in explosions in the country in recent weeks. However, this morning the emergency services were mobilised once again in Moscow. 120 people lived in the 8-storey apartment complex in Pechatniky, in Southeast Moscow. Most were asleep when the explosion occurred shortly after 5am.
30 ambulances, rescue teams, firefighters and police rushed to the scene, the entire building had been flattened in the blast. As rescue workers listened for the cries of survivors, neighbours gathered in silence. Glass from windows in the complex was found over 100 metres away from the scene.
Security has been heightened across Russia in the wake of recent explosions, the most recent occurred last Thursday in Moscow. The mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, accused Chechen rebels of planting this morning's bomb. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that the attack had clearly been a terrorist one, and described the perpetrators as 'rabid animals'.
However, army leaders in Chechnya have denied any involvement in the blast, or in recent attacks. Vladimir Putin said that he wants police stationed outside all of Moscow's apartment blocks in a bid to ward off further attacks. The blast has increased speculation that a state of emergency may be introduced in Russia. Another device exploded in a house in the far east of the country in a house this morning, but no one was killed.