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Official Says Gas Used in Moscow Rescue Killed More Than 100 Hostages - 2002-10-27


A senior medical official in Moscow says at least 115 hostages died from the effects of a gas used Saturday to subdue their Chechen captors.

The head Moscow city doctor, Andrei Seltsovsky, said the captives died after Russian security forces used a gas to incapacitate Chechen gunmen during a raid on the theater where the hostages were being held.

The doctor said one hostage died from bullet wounds received Saturday. Another woman was shot by the gunmen during the first hours of the hostage crisis Wednesday.

Mr. Seltsovsky said nearly 48 hours after being freed, most of the hostages remained hospitalized from the effects of the gas, about a quarter of them were placed in intensive care.

Russian officials have not specified what type of gas they used during the early Saturday raid.

Many relatives have been frustrated by the lack of information about the condition of their loved ones and have not been able to visit them at area hospitals.

Family members and friends swarmed around the hospitals where most of the former hostages were being held, trying to get some news of their condition.

Gunmen demanding an end to the war in Chechnya took hundreds of people hostage Wednesday after storming a Moscow theater. The gunmen rigged explosives throughout the building and threatened to shoot hostages or blow up the theatre if Russian forces raided the building.

Russian forces pumped gas into the building before storming in Saturday.

The hostage crisis has been a harsh blow for Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a televised address to the nation Saturday, he asked for forgiveness for not being able to save everyone.

He declared Monday a national day of morning for the victims.