Global Voices Online
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
A passenger train on its way from Moscow to St. Petersburg was derailed Monday night by a homemade bomb set along railroad tracks. No one was killed, but some 60 passengers of the more than 230 on board were injured, at least three of them seriously.
For a while, Russian bloggers were ahead of the Russian media on this story.
The accident occurred at 9:38 PM Moscow time, and LJ user lightbird was one of the first to report on it on her blog - in this entry (RUS), posted at 9:54 PM:
Oh God. My colleague has just called me - a [Moscow-St. Petersburg] train has been derailed. Everything's in smoke, the train cars are turned over. She's okay, but something has to be done?! How can we help? So far, there's silence in the news.
From 10:15 PM, LJ user katoga was liveblogging (RUS) from Malaya Vishera, a town nearby, while her husband was at the site of the crash:
I've just heard from friends that close to us, near the village of Burga, the Nevsky Express train #166 has been derailed. Right now. It's not clear why. They are saying something about an explosion. Some people have been injured. The police and ambulance are on the way there from Malaya Vishera. We can hear their sirens right outside our windows. Terrible...
There's nothing in the news yet. Maybe they'll have a report soon...
P.S. 1. [10:50 PM] They've just confirmed it on the NTV news. Said there were many injured. Nothing is known yet about the cause of the crash. The main thing is for everyone to survive...
P.S. 2. [10:55] Got a call from there. No casualties. Two with serious injuries. Many injured, but it looks like they're all not in critical condition, except for those two.
August again. I'm beginning to fear this month already... [Awful things - like the 2000 Kursk submarine disaster or the 2004 plane crashes - seem to wait to happen in Russia in August. As one blogger (LJ user mysteelheart) commented (RUS) in another post, "It's August, my friend. We've got this tradition - terrorist acts take place in August.] [...]
But this time, EVERYONE'S ALIVE... And this is what matters...
[LJers], IF ANY OF YOU HAVE RELATIVES OR FRIENDS THERE, GET IN TOUCH WITH ME. [phone number]
I'M JUST A 15-MINUTE DRIVE AWAY. YOUR PEOPLE CAN GET TO MALAYA VISHERA AND STAY WITH ME. SPEND THE NIGHT HERE, CALM DOWN. THEN TOMORROW THEY'LL GET WHEREVER THEY NEED WITHOUT PROBLEMS BY COMMUTER TRAIN. EVERYONE'S WELCOME!!!
In the comments to katoga's post, there is this discussion (RUS) on what kind of a blast might have caused a crash like this; the discussion took place a few hours after the accident, on Monday night:
[...] By the way, they were saved by high speed. The explosion took place by the bridge. If they were going not as fast, the train would've fallen right under the bridge. It's 25 meters or so. But the train is heavy and, thanks to high speed and inertia, it flew past the bridge and only there derailed.
This means the explosion (if there really was an explosion) wasn't too powerful. Otherwise, high speed would've only exacerbated the situation.
Yes, most likely it wasn't too powerful. The crater's diameter is about 1.5 meters.
By the way, it's possible that there was no explosion at all. Accident sites sometimes look as if they've been bombed. :) And [fear tends to make things appear worse than they are].
There was definitely an explosion. Even special services confirm this.
We'll see. Tomorrow they may as well [...] start asserting the opposite. [...]
LJ user egorich239 is among those who suspect (RUS) that the accident could have something to do with the upcoming presidential election in Russia:
[...] Or perhaps this is a pre-election thing. And then yet another guy will appear - "who will restore order." [...]
LJ user ka52ever was on the Moscow-St. Petersburg train when the crash occurred; here is part of her account (RUS):
[...] I was napping, then heard a blow, and the man sitting next to me suddenly said: "Hold on tight." I opened my eyes and saw that everyone jumping up from their seats and grabbing their luggage. I turned towards the exit and saw smoke there. At first I got scared because I thought there was a fire. But it turned out to be cement dust.
We got out. The young attendant on the really high heels was stretching out her hand to everyone and helping to get down to the ground.
The cars derailed, the tracks were broken, wires were hanging down, some part of the roof was on the ground, and it was horrible to look further on. The other cars lay on their side.
People started calling their relatives right away, all were saying the same words: "Don't worry, I'm fine, but there's been an accident here, the train has derailed..." And then they were telling what they'd seen and understood.
In 20 minutes or so, cops arrived in two cars, and they must've been so distressed that they couldn't really explain where we were exactly. [...]
The most surprising thing were the cab drivers. They showed up almost immediately and were asking 3,500 rubles [$140] for a trip to St. Pete. [...]
In an hour or so, ambulances, the police, etc., began to arrive. And, of course, the gawkers...
I was in a somewhat detached state.
Today, though, I'm beginning to feel uneasy.
The passengers, by the way, acted very calm, no one got hysterical, no one screamed, everyone tried to be helpful to other in some way.
The accident has interrupted rail services on one of Russia’s busiest rail lines. LJ user serni was traveling from St. Petersburg to Moscow that night and ended up spending 27 hours on the train - instead of the scheduled eight. There was little food or water on this tiresome journey, and among serni's fellow passengers were an infant and a diabetic woman who had run out of insulin. Here's one of his observations (RUS):
Funny: one small bomb has completely paralyzed traffic in Russia's European part. And what if there is war? [...]