Moscow (CNN) — Eleven people have been killed and 50 injured during an explosion on the metro in the Russian city of St. Petersburg on Monday, the Russian health ministry said, in what authorities described as a terrorist attack.
An explosion tore through a train as it was traveling between two stations in Russia’s second-biggest city, injuring dozens more.
A second device was found and defused another station, Russia’s Anti-terrorist Committee said. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, which led to the shutdown of the entire metro system in St. Petersburg.
The blast happened as the train was in a tunnel between the Sennaya Ploshchad and Tekhnologichesky Institute stations in the center of the city. In the confusion, first reports suggested there were two blasts.
A spokesman for the National Anti-terrorism Committee said that the blast was caused by an unidentified explosive device in one of the train’s cars.
“So far, we say it was an unidentified explosive device as investigators and the Federal Security Service’s bomb specialists are to establish the exact cause of this explosion,” Andrei Przhezdomsky told state-run Russia 24.
A second device was found at another metro station — Revolutionary Square — but was disabled, the committee said in statement.
The Prosecutor General’s office in St. Petersburg called the explosion a terrorist attack, TASS reported.
‘We expected death’
Images of the car shows the facade had been ripped off, while others showed passengers running from the site at the station filled with smoke. Victims said they helped each other escape the train and that they were preparing for the worst possible situation.
“In the metro car, everyone expected death, if I can say that. After the explosion, everyone expected consequences. Then we were taken out, and people began to help each other, brought others out. Most were covered in blood,” a passenger on the train told TASS.
Bodies were seen in images strewn across a station platform outside the train. Bandaged and bloodied victims were photographed being carried out of the Tekhnologichesky Institute station by rescuers.
Another passenger at the Sennaya station, Stanislav Listyev, said he felt the explosion and saw smoke coming out of the tunnel.
“I was going going down the escalator at Sennaya square at about half past 2, and at that moment I felt an explosion wave underneath. Everything was filled with smoke, people started panicking. So the trains stopped and almost immediately the evacuation started,” he told CNN.
The source who confirmed the explosion to TASS said preliminary information indicated that around 10 people were killed, adding that the exact number of victims was still being established. The death toll was later revised to 11.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to the victims and is talking to the FSB security services about the investigation, according to state media.
He said he was not ruling out any causes.
“The reasons for the explosion are unknown, so it’s too early to talk about it. The investigation will show what happened,” Putin said, beginning a meeting with Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko.
“Naturally, we always consider all options — both domestic and criminal, primarily incidents of a terrorist nature.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin had been in St. Petersburg speaking at an event earlier Monday.
The St. Petersburg metro has five lines and 67 stations. It transports 2.3 million people a day and has more than 1,600 train cars.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev described the explosion as a “terrorist act.”
“Those who suffered during the terrorist act in the St. Petersburg metro will be provided with all the necessary assistance,” he said in a message on Facebook.
“My most sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the explosion. This is a common pain.”
Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the defense committee in the Federation Council, said that the choice of St. Petersburg as a target may have been tied to Putin’s visit there for a media event.
“The choice of the place and the timing of these blasts is not accidental. The president of Russia is in [St. Petersburg], the media forum is taking place there, there are many journalists,” Ozerov said.
Russia was once a hotspot for terror attacks but the country has experienced relatively few in recent years.
In December 2013, a suicide bombing at a train station in Volgograd killed at least 16 people. The following day, in the same city, a suicide bombing on a trolley bus killed 14 people.
In 2010, two female suicide bombers blew themselves up at two Moscow metro stations, killing 40. They were linked to the Chechen insurgency.
And in 2002, Chechen rebels killed 170 people in a theater hostage situation in the capital, Moscow.