Sept. 3 - Even as flames burst through the windows of Beslan’s School No. 1 and rescue workers carried out corpse after corpse with missing limbs, Russian state television was putting a positive spin on things. "Practically the whole school is under the control of special forces," an NTV announcer repeated every 10 minutes this afternoon. "The vast majority of child hostages are alive."
A few hundred yards away, volunteers loaded half-naked and bloodied kids, once dressed in their finest for the Sept. 1 start of school, into rickety private cars and ambulances for the drive to the hospital. "If the Russians hadn’t started shooting, we all would have died there of hunger," said Alla Gadieva, 24, reports Newsweek.
According to Reuters, Russian troops stormed a school Friday, blaming Chechen hostage-takers for a battle in which at least 100 people -- dozens of them children -- were killed and hundreds were wounded.
Terrified children, some naked and others with bloodied faces, ran screaming for safety after a 53-hour ordeal at the hands of gunmen with bombs strapped to their waists. Machine-gun fire rattled out and helicopters clattered overhead.
Hours after the storming of the school, a top security official said some children were still being held and new explosions were heard in the area. An unknown number of the hostage-takers fled, but officials said later three had been captured alive.
Soldiers grabbed the fleeing children and rushed them to waiting medics. Some had blood streaming from wounds.
There were reports of at least 100 dead in the school gym. Lines of dead children and adults could be seen lying on stretchers, covered with white sheets. Grieving parents and loved ones knelt beside the dead.
Bodies of children also were laid out under a grove of trees near a hospital awaiting identification. Nearby anxious crowds gathered around lists of injured posted on the walls of the hospital buildings.
Officials at the crisis headquarters said 95 victims have been identified so far, and Valery Andreyev, the regional Federal Security Service chief, said 556 people were hospitalized, including 332 children. Emergency Situations Ministry officials put the number of hospitalized at 646 - 227 of them children, informs Guardian.
Read earlier news stories by PRAVDA.Ru