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Emergencies Ministry employee tells hisstory
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, 29 2002
In the newspaper ‘Trud’
Rescue Service member Alyosha: WE HAD TO TEAR PEOPLE FROM THEIR SEATS
Immediately after the terrorists were eliminated, rescuers from the Emergency Situations Ministry entered the theatrical center in order to evacuate the hostages. Hereis the testimony of one of them, Alyosha.
I was struck by the abundance of blood in the premises. Hereand there lay the bodies of militants. Theauditorium where the hostages were located reeked: the bandits had made the people use the orchestra pit as a toilet, and the stench was coming from there. There was silence other than the voices of the commandos there was not a sound. Thehostages were in some kind of a strange daze, apparently under the influence of the gas. Theyjust were sitting in their seats with their arms around each other.
Not everyone lost consciousness, however. Somepeople, though awake, were clearly behaving erratically. Awoman took out some papers, tore them up and threw the pieces overhead, and then burst into tears. Onechild suddenly woke up and began shouting: “To ‘Nord-Ost’ to live, Iwon’t go to ‘Chicago’.” He repeated this phrase several times and then lost consciousness again.
We moved around the auditorium with extreme caution. Everything was booby-trapped, so we had to check our movements literally millimeter by millimeter. Before you could take someone out of the hall, you had to survey the space around him to see that he was not mined or there were any explosives near him. Ifa person did not respond either to voice or a check of his reflexes, that meant he was either dead or in very serious condition. Thehardest thing was with people whom the gas caused to have muscle contractions they were the hardest to evacuate. Theyclung tenaciously to the seat handles, and we had to literally tear them out of their seats The anabolics we commonly use in such cases had no effect on them.
In general, Iwould divide the people inside the building into three groups. Some, mostly the men, came to on their own soon after they were carried outside into the fresh air. Someeven got out on their own after they were injected. Thesecond group was the women and weaker men. Theycame to only after additional drugs were used, and not right away. Thelargest mortality rate was among the weakest groups the children and people with a weak mentality, on whom stress had the strongest influence. These either died in the hall under the influence of the gas, or did not survive the trip to the hospital.
I cannot speak for my bosses evaluating the operation is none of my business. Ican only answer for my comrades and myself: we did what we could and it is not our fault that we could not save everyone. Ido not know how it went with the destruction of the bandits, but the release of the hostages was very consistent. Everyone helped us take people out of the building, including the commandos who by that time were basically done with their work.
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