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Friday, January 26, 2007

Blast hits Moscow University, 1,200 evacuated, no injuries

MOSCOW, January 26 (RIA Novosti) - An explosion early Friday hit a Moscow State University hall of residence, linked to MSU's landmark Stalin-era skyscraper, damaging a wall and smashing windows but causing no injuries, the emergencies ministry said.

Ministry spokesman Yevgeny Bobylov said: "The blast damaged a 3-square-meter section of an inner wall and smashed windows between the 10th and 14th floors."

He said about 1,200 residents have been evacuated from the 19-storey sector B of the university's main building on Vorobyovy Gory (Sparrow Hills), whose 36-storey central part is 235 (770 feet) meters high.

No fire broke out following the explosion, and the university continues to function as normal, he said.

Bomb disposal experts from the Interior Ministry are working at the scene to identify the explosive device which went off on a staircase in the residence, he said. The cause of the blast is still being investigated.

The university experienced a similar attack last November, when a homemade bomb planted in the corridor of a hall of residence went off, slightly injuring one person. The power of the explosion was estimated at 50 grams of TNT equivalent.

During the search that ensued, another homemade explosive device, with a force equivalent to at least 500 grams of TNT, was found and destroyed.
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