Relatives of Moscow attack missing seek answers

2 weeks ago 24

People gathered outside the Crocus venue to pay their respects to the victims of the attack on 22 MarchImage source, Shutterstock

Image caption,

People gathered outside the Crocus venue to pay their respects to the victims of the attack on 22 March

By Victoria Safronova and Ido Vock

BBC News

Dozens of people are still missing following the attack on the Crocus City Hall music venue in Moscow, raising fears that the death toll could rise higher than the current 143.

Some relatives of the missing have been attempting to track down their loved ones in hospitals around the capital.

The fire which destroyed much of the venue is believed to have made many victims' remains unrecognisable.

143 people are still missing, Russian investigators said on Wednesday.

42-year-old Oleg Shikhovtsev from Lyubertsy, near Moscow, was at the concert by the band Picnic with his wife and 19-year-old daughter. The family was sitting towards the front of the venue when the attack began. Mr Shikhovtsev protected his wife, who was wounded in the back. His daughter was also injured.

Mr Shikhovtsev's wife was able to get her daughter out of the hall. On the street, they were picked up by strangers passing by Crocus by car and taken to the hospital.

Doctors operated on his daughter, pulling a bullet out of her body. But since the attack, Oleg's relatives have not been able to reach him, they told the BBC. Calls to his phone have gone unanswered.

In the process of trying to find out what happened to Oleg, his relatives found a man who helped to carry the wounded out of the concert hall while it was on fire. He said that he also carried out a man who looked similar to Oleg.

But calls and visits to hospitals around Moscow have not been successful in locating him. Several people sent a graphic video published by the Islamic State group, the militant organisation which claimed responsibility for the attack, suggesting Oleg may be seen in it.

But his relatives told the BBC they don't believe he is.

Russian officials have not contacted Oleg Shikhovtsev's relatives with information about his fate.

"There is still hope," a friend told the BBC. "Maybe by some miracle they missed someone. Maybe they aren't telling us because he is in serious condition."

The Russian Investigative Committee said in a statement on Wednesday that genetic examinations were being carried out on remains found in the hall in order to identify victims of the attack.

Four citizens of Tajikistan accused of being the gunmen who perpetrated the attack - named as Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev, Saidakrami Murodali Rachabalizoda, Shamsidin Fariduni and Muhammadsobir Fayzov - appeared in court on Sunday. All showed signs of severe torture.

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