Belarus Red Cross provides emergency assistance to metro blast victims
Belarus Red Cross emergency staff were on the scene within seconds of the 11 April metro station blast. The tragedy, which killed 12 people and left dozens injured, happened at the peak of rush hour in the busy Oktyabrskaya station in the heart of the capital, just metres from the Belarus Red Cross downtown offices.
Irina Karanchuk, a member of the IFRC’s regional disaster response team, was just finishing a normal working day when the phone rang. “It was a colleague who was on her way home. All she said was, ‘something horrible is happening at Oktyabrskaya station’.
“When we got there we came upon a terrible scene but there was no panic. Even severely wounded people were bravely tolerating awful pain. We helped move out the injured, put on bandages, and tried to provide psychological assistance. Some people were so shocked that we simply took them by their hands and brought them out to ambulances.”
When he heard the explosion, Red Cross logistician Konstatin Andronchik reacted instantly. “I put on my uniform, grabbed a first aid kit and dashed into the metro. What we saw was appalling. Stunned people were coming out with soot all over their faces.
“It was essential not to be overwhelmed by emotions and to focus on assisting people. Together with medical personnel, we evacuated people and placed them in emergency vehicles. Most importantly, there was no panic – passengers who were uninjured helped those who were in a more severe state.”
Secretary general of the Belarus Red Cross, Viktor Kolbanov, commended his staff for their swift humanitarian response, and thanked neighbouring and other European Red Cross societies for their solidarity.
“The people of Belarus are shocked. This has happened for the first time in our country. Belarus Red Cross has been involved from the very beginning and intends to secure long-term assistance to those affected.
“We have already received significant financial donations from the public and we will use this to provide psychological assistance, ensure volunteers visit or sit with patients in hospitals, and also supply rehabilitation items and address any other needs of victims and their families. We are so, so grateful for all the financial and moral support received.”