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Train operator on St. Petersburg attack: 'Alarm calls came from all cars simultaneously'

The chief of the St. Petersburg metro said that the train driver made the sole correct decision to take the train to the nearest station after the blast

ST. PETERSBURG, April 4. /TASS/. The motorman of the blast-stricken train, Aleksandr Kaverin said that he had heard an explosion, and then verbal messages started pouring in via the passenger-driver hot line.

"There was a bang and a cloud of dust. I contacted the traffic controller and warned him of the incident. Then I started receiving incomprehensible verbal messages via the hot line. The alarm calls came from all cars simultaneously. I notified the traffic controller and made the decision to follow the instructions that specify the mode of action in such situations. I made the decision to steer the train into the station, because the train kept rolling on normally."

There was no panic, Garyugin said. Passengers promptly joined the metro personnel’s efforts to help those injured.

"We realized what had really happened only when the train stopped," Kaverin said. "Fortunately, three experienced instructor drivers were on duty at the station. I alerted them and they rushed to the platform to meet the train."

"The train’s doors were opened to let the passengers out. After the first hectic minute or two the instructor drivers went along the train to promptly find out there had been an explosion," Kaverin said.

The sole correct decision

The motorman of the St. Petersburg metro train made the sole correct decision after a bomb went off in one of the cars on Monday afternoon by taking the train to the nearest station thus saving many passengers’ lives, the chief of the St. Petersburg metro, Vladimir Garyugin, told the media on Tuesday.

"At that dramatic moment the man made the only appropriate decision - to follow the instruction and to take the train to the station. We do have such an instruction in reality," Garyugin said.

He admitted that in some cases people get confused and make mistakes in emergencies.

"In this particular case the driver acted in keeping with the instruction. It was the correct decision," Garyugin added.

Train damaged beyond repair

The blast damaged the train beyond repair.

"The damage was so bad that we had problems with getting it through the tunnel to the terminal station," Garyugin said.

After the explosion the metro’s management suspended the network’s operation for several hours for comprehensive checks. The measure that caused so many inconveniences to the city’s residents and guests was unavoidable, Garyugin explained.

"To prevent any further incidents we checked the passenger areas, the rolling stock and the technical rooms and facilities that are for staff only," Garyugin said, adding that the metro today had proper means of protection.

Last year more than 10,000 suspicious items were identified.

"Certainly, we take measures, we build up our security service and its staff," Garyugin said. At the same time he remarked that tighter security measures might create hindrances to passengers and reduce traffic.

"True, we may try to turn the metro into an airport, but you will easily guess how many passengers we will have," Garyugin said.

St. Petersburg’s metro carries more than two million passengers a day.

Worthy of awards

Garyugin believes that competence and efficiency of his subordinates prevented many adverse effects of the explosion. Ambulances were called promptly and evacuation arranged for in virtually no time. Many passengers volunteered to help.

"In that situation many people behaved the way the real citizen should. I saw metro personnel and passengers work together and help each other. Many people were hurt, screams and groans could be heard but there was no hysteria," said Garyugin who arrived at the scene minutes after the incident.

Several employees of St. Petersburg’s metro have been nominated for official awards, among others the train’s operator, Aleksandr Kaverin, and station attendant Nina Shmelyova, who, Garyugin said, "did a great deal to address the emergency."

Among those nominated for awards is Albert Sibirsky, the Ploshchad Vosstaniya station’s inspector, who helped prevent another terrorist attack.

"His vigilance and prompt response prevented another incident, at the Ploshchad Vosstaniya station. Another bomb planted there might have caused heavy damage. The man promptly cordoned off the area and called bomb disposal specialists, thus preventing a terror act," Garyugin said.


Metro train blast

An explosive device went off on a train between the Sennaya Ploshchad and Tekhnologichesky Institut stations at 14:40 Moscow time on Monday. A source in the law enforcement said the bomb was set off by a suicide bomber.

As Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said earlier on Tuesday, the terrorist attack killed 14 and injured 49 others, who are now in hospital.