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Russia: First Twitter Reports of Domodedovo Suicide Bombing

A  deadly explosion killed at least 35, and wounded as many as 70 people in the Moscow airport Domodedovo. Early reports assert (ru) that the attack was a suicide bomb. Information has been coming in from many sources. Twitter is experiencing an explosion of tweets with the hashtag #Domodedovo. At the moment the information flow is extremely intense; the hashtag is receiving about 100 message per second. LiveJournal has been less mobile in reflecting the news not to speak of TV channels that were at least half an hour late with covering the disaster.

Initial reporting

The first news came from Twitter-user Ilya Likhtenfeld (@likhtenfeld). Below is the selection of his tweets:

16:44: В домодедово теракт! Страшный взрыв в здании аэропорта! Десятки тел разорваных людей! Звоните близким. RT

There’s a terrorist act in Domodedovo! An enormous explosion in the building of the airport! Dozens of broken bodies! Call your relatives. RT

16:48 @emenschikova у меня там бизнес, много сотрудников

I have business there, there are many employees of mine

16:57 По оценкам моих сотрудников около 70 погибших! Сергей вынес 15 человек раненых!

According to my employees there are more than 70 dead! Sergey carried out 15 wounded!

17:14 У людей находящихся рядом с Домодедово начинаются перебои с сотовой связью.

People in Domodedovo are having problems with cellphone connection

17:16 Сейчас в новостных лентах ничинают занижать кол-во погибших

Now, all the newswires are starting to lower number of casualties.

17:28 Не можем найти сотрудницу, которая была на смене. Нигде её нет

We can’t find our employee who was on the shift. Can’t find her anywhere.

17:34 Всем отвечаю: у меня там более 100 сотрудников работают! Вся инфа от них! Фото и видео скоро будут!

I’m replying to everyone – I have more than 100 employees there! All the information is from them! Photos and videos will appear shortly!

17:48 НАЧАЛИ ГЛУШИТЬ СОТОВУЮ СВЯЗЬ! постоянные перебои в разговорах с людьми, которые там находятся

THEY STARTED TO STIFLE THE MOBILE CONNECTION! Constant breaks during phone conversations with the people that are there.

17:54 Уже двоих сотрудников не можем найти. Ещё одну девочку увозят на скорой

We can’t find two persons from our staff. One girl is on the ambulance

17:56 Погибших не менее 70! Это говорят несколько человек, который были прямо там. Раненых много больше 100

Number of casualties is not less than 70! This is being said by several people who have been there. There are more than 100 wounded.

17:56 Всё оцепили никого не пускают.

Now they (police – GV) have surrounded everything. They’re not letting anyone (in or out – GV)

18:07 Это не багаж! Бомба была на человеке, который стоял среди встречающих. Рядом с Азия-кафе.

It wasn't luggage! Bomb was on a person who was standing among those who were meeting people. Next to Asia-cafe.

User @stas_grigoriev uploaded series of videos at his twitvid channel:

User Djem79 uploaded this (unverified) video:

Issues and reactions

As information sources have diversified, differences in reporting have started to appear. One of them is the reluctance of the major TV channels to cover the event. Oleg Kozyrev wrote:

центральные каналы не прерывали вещания из-за теракта
по России 24 долгое время была только строка, тогда как мировые каналы уже дали выпуски новостей из Домодедово
Раша Тудей единственный, кто вещает постоянно только об этом
+ молодцы Пятый канал – сделали экстренное прямое включение-сюжет

Central TV stations didn't take planned programs off the air
on Russia 24 TV there was only text, while all the major international channels were put out the news from Domodedovo
Russia Today was the only channel who was broadcasting only about it
+ 5th channel made a special live programme

VicorBad wrote: RT @S1monenko: Медведев из твиттера узнал, что творится в #domodedovo и собрал экстренное совещание. это же хер пойми что,а не страна.

Medvedev (Russian president – GV) found out what was happening in Domodedovo from Twitter and only then assembled an emergency  meeting. It's such a mess, not a country.

Another issues was a taxidrivers that raised the prices for their services.
@MashaDrokova:

позор:( RT @vol1oleg: Опять таксисты в #domodedovo взвинтили цены до 10-20 тысяч рублей

What a shame :( RT @vol1oleg: Again taxi drivers in #domodedovo have jacked up the prices to 10-20 thousand roubles ($330-660 – GV)

As the problem was described, volunteers showed up:
@mrzff:

Снова нужны #freetaxi в #domodedovo

Again #freetaxi are needed in #domodedovo

The hashtag #freetaxi was used during the bombings in April 2010, when a similar problem appeared.

At 18:04 (MSK) a new hashtag #dmdhelp was set up to organize help with transport. As though following the information about the price gouging of taxi drivers, at 18:43 Aeroexpress (an express train that connects airport and the center of Moscow) introduced free transportation for everyone.

The first Twitpics have also begun appearing. User @liktenfeld posted an image of bodies.

This apparent terror act, the first in 2011, has showed an important new feature of the Russian media space. If a year ago Russians were just experimenting with new media tools (and, especially Twitter) during the emergencies, in 2011 they faced this disaster better prepared. Twitterer's quick reaction bore an Twitter anecdote, that even the president found out about the event from his Twitter feed. At the same time, Twitter-mobilization against the escalated taxi rates led to self-help organization and a decision to remove the train tariff for passengers.

11 comments

  • Twitter was a great resource. Here’re some interesting tweets I came across:
    Volunteers offering free ride from Domodedovo to the metro: http://twitpic.com/3t26br;
    a screenshot proving that Twitter reacted faster than Vkontakte (first image): http://yvision.kz/yv/112178;
    Oleg Kozyrev writes (RUS) that it’s time to hold FSB accountable: http://oleg-kozyrev.livejournal.com/3321924.html;
    Twitter users complains that Rus. TV failed to provide timely coverage of the events (@sashasuhanov: “today Russian TV has officially died…”): http://twitter.com/#!/sashasuhanov/status/29547443385270273; http://twitter.com/#!/Goryansky/status/29611641553297409;
    Twitter user calls on both President and Prime Minister to resign: http://twitter.com/#!/_gerda/status/29610076922712064

  • rkt

    I’ve made some chronological analys on twitter vs. official media reaction time. You can translate it quickly with google translate for example.
    http://rokoto.livejournal.com/62563.html

  • Stephen

    “The Twitter-news were so instant that even the president found out about the event from Twitter.”

    What is your evidence for this statement? Is it just the tweet that you quote earlier on in your piece?

    It is perfectly possible that it is true, but I would expect to see more reliable evidence before accepting it as a matter of fact.

    You also refer to the hiked taxi fares as a matter of fact. A report on REN TV later in the evening cast serious doubt on claims about this. The REN reporter said they had used hidden cameras to film several taxi-drivers whom they had asked for fare-quotes and not one of them had demanded an exorbitant fare.

    Of course, the REN report is not absolute proof that it wasn’t happening. But, then again, the appearance of reports on Twitter is not proof that it was, or at least not right across the board. It may have been one isolated case that was seized on by the Tweeters and blown up out of all proportion.

    Twitter is a great source of “instant” news, as you put it. But it is also a rich mine of unfounded rumour, wild exaggeration and irresponsible speculation.

    Surely a bit more healthy scepticism is in order.

    • Dear Stephen,

      1. “What is your evidence for this statement? Is it just the tweet that you quote earlier on in your piece?”
      True, it was a Twitter anecdote. Changed the language. At the moment of the writing (this article had been published within 4 hours after the event) though it seemed quite realistic.

      2. As for taxi-drivers. Grisha Asmolov is preparing more detailed analysis on this. My opinion: 1. Hi-jacking of taxi prices indeed could be a manipulation in order to distract from the real problem. 2. It could be also a one-time example that got re-tweeted, considering that this happened in Domodedovo in December’10 and in Moscow in April’10. 3. The change of the taxi fares to reasonable could be a reaction to the Twitter panic – this would explain both reactions of many bloggers who came on the spot as well as REN-TV report. I believe that Twitter taxi panic and the previous events of blackout in Domodedovo in December influence Aeroexpress decisions.

      3. I agree with you that Twitter in the first time of any disaster is full of both helpful information and manipulations (both chaotic (“I’ll tweet something crazy for fun”) and directed).

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