MOSCOW, Russia # An explosion has ripped apart an underground Moscow metro train car during the morning rush hour, killing at least 30 people and wounding 70 others, according to the Ministry of Emergency Situations.
It is not clear if the explosion was the result of a terrorist attack, but a police source told Russia’s Interfax news agency they are not ruling out that possibility.
The blast destroyed the second car of the train, which was traveling from Paveletskaya station to Avtozavodskaya station, southwest of the city center, around 8:40 a.m. (12:40 a.m. ET), the ministry spokesman said.
Hours after the blast, rescue workers completed their evacuation of people from the subway tunnel.
Two men covered in blood told CNN’s Anastasia Anashkina they walked through the dark tunnel after the explosion to the Paveletskaya station’s exit. They said the powerful force of the blast shattered the windows of the connecting train cars.
“After the blast they couldn’t open the doors for some time,” said one woman who was in the second train car at the time of the blast. “Then the operator opened the doors and we walked for about two kilometers.”
Some 50 ambulances and firefighters are on the scene, the ministry spokesman said. The explosion caused a serious fire, and smoke filled the underground metro tunnel.
Russian emergency officials had been bracing for a possible terror attack ahead of the March 14 presidential election.
Days after the December parliamentary elections, a female suicide bomber killed six people in central Moscow outside the National Hotel, near Red Square.
Russian officials said the attacker wanted to send a political message by exploding a bomb at the center of the Russian government.
Moscow has also been the target of terror attacks blamed on sympathizers with the breakaway republic of Chechnya.
A double suicide bombing at a Moscow rock concert in July 2003 killed the female attackers and 15 other people, and an explosive device a woman brought into central Moscow less than a week later killed an expert who tried to defuse it.
Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed Chechen terrorists for the suicide attack.
In October 2002, Chechen rebels raided a Moscow theater, taking hundreds hostage. A total of 129 people died in the 57-hour siege, after Russian security forces used a narcotic knock-out gas to subdue the Chechen hostage takers.