Two explosions blasted Moscow’s underground system this morning as it was jam-packed with rush-hour passengers, killing at least 34 people and wounding more than 25, emergency officials said.
Russia’s top investigative body said terrorism is suspected in the blasts, although there was no immediate confirmation of how the explosions happened.
Moscow Emergency Ministry spokeswoman Veronika Smolskaya said 22 people were killed in the first blast, at the Lubyanka station in central Moscow.
The station is underneath the building that houses the main offices of the Federal Security Service, the KGB’s main successor agency.
A second explosion hit the Park Kultury station about 45 minutes later. Ms Smolskaya said at least 12 were dead there.
The last time Moscow was hit by a confirmed terrorist attack was in August 2004, when a suicide bomber blew herself up outside a city subway station, killing 10 people.
Responsibility for that blast was claimed by Chechen rebels and suspicion in today’s explosions is likely to focus on them and other separatist groups in the restive North Caucasus region.
The Moscow subway system is one of the world’s busiest, carrying around seven million passengers on an average workday, and is a key element in running the sprawling and traffic-choked city.
The blasts practically paralysed movement on the city centre’s main roads, as emergency vehicles sped to the stations. Helicopters hovered overhead the Park Kultury station area, which is next to the city’s renowned Gorky Park.
Passengers, many of them in tears, streamed out of the station, one man exclaiming over and over: “This is how we live!”
At least a dozen ambulances were on the scene.