On the receiving end of a terror act
Emotional scars from the second deadly bombing at the central market in the southern Russian city of Vladikavkaz will take years to heal.
The street that was packed with people is now quiet, filled with shock, fear and sorrow.
The uninjured survivors are praying for those who weren't so lucky, but struggle to find anything that can ease their pain.
Thursday, September 9, 2010 is a day Fatima Esenova and many others will spend the next few years trying hard to forget.
Fatima was late to work and was hurriedly putting flowers for sale outside. She heard the blast, but didn't realize what had happened until a car came crashing down beside her.
“We were standing close by. And it felt as if the earth is shaking. The cars were shaking. As if this tremble went through the whole world. It really felt like the end of the world,” Fatima says.
At first Fatima didn't see anything, except fear in the faces of people running by. Paralyzed with panic, Fatima couldn't move. Her first thought – militants and they want to kill everyone.
“And then I looked at our car. It was littered by pieces of flesh. And my husband was touching them. And I said – wait! Wait! Because it really was flesh,” Fatima says.
Only now Fatima understands that she was lucky to survive. She says she is strong and can cope with anything. But the fear isn't letting her go. And she stays at the scene as if glued to what is left of her car and flowers.
The explosion left a hole measuring 1.5-meter-wide and 0.7-meter-deep. The bomb was equipped with scraps of metal in order to strengthen the explosion.
Reports indicate that the blast was heard up to five kilometers away from the market. Local resident Ernest Akadzhan heard the explosion from home.
“Look, this is what they pulled out of a woman's leg. People were shocked. The ambulance and police arrived immediately and all the emergency services reacted instantly. Citizens of Vladikavkaz are very experienced in this, sad as it is,” Ernest observes.
The morning was horrible, not only for the eyewitnesses of the blast, but also for people in various parts of Russia who had relatives in Vladikavkaz. They spent the day trying to reach them to know if they were safe.
All of that will add-up to the atmosphere of fear that has already become common place in the volatile region of Russia’s North Caucasus.