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‘I fell to the ground pretending I was dead’ – Moscow attack survivors share their stories

At least 115 people were killed in the brutal attack while more than 120 sustained injuries, according to official reports

Witnesses of the brutal massacre at the Crocus City concert hall near Moscow have started sharing their stories of the horrific terrorist attack, which has taken the lives of at least 115 people and left more than 120 injured.

The attack was carried out by several men armed with assault rifles, who entered the venue just before the start of a nearly sold-out concert by the rock band Picnic on Friday evening and started shooting visitors on sight and at point-blank range. They then set the building on fire from inside the concert hall.

Many witnesses have stated in media interviews that it was not immediately clear what was happening, with one woman telling the BBC that she first thought that the sound of gunfire was some kind of fireworks. Only after seeing people on the lower rows of the hall starting to panic did she realize what she was hearing.

One of the concert goers, 61-year-old Elena, told reporters about a heroic man who managed to save countless lives during the attack. As people started to rush towards the back of the stage, one of the terrorists blocked their way, she said. Then, one of the visitors jumped on the attacker and managed to take away his assault rifle and knocked him out with the butt of the gun, allowing several dozen people to escape through the emergency exit, the woman claimed. 

Elena said she was unsure if the man managed to survive, since she did not see him after that and shooting was soon heard in the hall again.

Another victim, who is currently hospitalized, said she survived by playing dead. In an interview shared by several Russian media outlets, the woman recalled that the attackers had spotted her along with several other people and quickly opened fire as the victims ran for their lives. 

“I fell to the ground and pretended I was dead. A girl near me was probably killed,” the woman said, adding that as the fire raged in the building, she lay near the door to get the chance to breathe. The woman, who also suffered burns from the fire, said she was able to crawl toward the exit a few minutes later.

An RT translator, Alexander Petrov, was also supposed to join his family members at the concert but, due to being held up at work, was running late and miraculously managed to avoid being caught up in the chaos at the last moment.

Dave Privov, a photographer who was at the Crocus venue, told the BBC that he and his friend were on the balcony in the concert hall when he saw the attackers come inside. When the terrorists opened fire on the crowd in the hall, people started laying down on the floor on top of each other in the aisles, he recalled.

“At the same time, we understood that they could come in from any door with machine guns, and we tried to move to the nearest exit upstairs. Slowly, single file, crawling, forward, upward, we crawled out,” said the photographer.

Some of the survivors from inside the concert hall have noted that the security personnel at the venue did their job very professionally and had quickly opened up emergency exits, guiding people towards them while trying to prevent panic. “I was just carried out with the crowd,” one woman recalled.

However, others have claimed that it was difficult to get out of the building because many of the doors in the sprawling complex remained locked. That’s while the terrorists were shooting people in the back as they were trying to run away.

“They shouted. They shot people in the back and yelled: ‘everyone get down, don’t move.’ I don’t know how we managed to escape, we were sitting not very far from the door, but fortunately, that door was open,” another survivor told the media.

Evgeniya Ryumina – the daughter of famed Russian cosmonauts Valeriy Ryumin and Elena Kondakova, famous as the third woman in space, was also among the victims of the attack. In fact, she could be seen in early footage from the incident, in which a terrorist shoots at a group of people near the venue entrance.

According to the 112 Telegram channel, Ryumina managed to survive because she was covered with the bodies of the people who were standing in front of her. During the incident, however, she lost her documents, which were later found during an inspection of the premises, prompting authorities to declare her among the deceased.

READ MORE: What you need to know about the site of the Moscow terrorist attack

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has reported that eleven suspects, including four terrorists who are believed to have directly taken part in the Crocus attack, have been detained. The agency noted that the attackers were apprehended as they were trying to make their way to the Russian-Ukrainian border.

March 23, 2024 at 06:58PM

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