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Saturday, 26 October, 2002, 22:43 GMT 23:43 UK
Relatives' agonising wait
Distraught relatives outside Hospital 13 with an armed policeman wait for news of relatives
The vigil for news has been continuing at hospitals

The crisis at the Moscow theatre is over, but for the hostages' friends and families the focus has moved to the city's hospitals.

Distraught relative awaits information
At least 90 hostages died during or since the storming of the theatre
Survivors of the ordeal have been distributed around the city's medical facilities, but so far relatives are not being allowed access.

Outside emergency hospital Number 13, people huddle in the cold at the main gate, desperate for news of their loved ones inside.

One mother awaits information about her 24-year-old daughter.

"They told me she's alive, thank God, but they won't let me in and they won't let me speak to her," she said.

"I just want all this to be over."

Holding vigil

Boris, another of those holding vigil by the hospital gates, has just found out his wife has survived thanks to a phone call she was allowed from her bed.

We've phoned all the emergency lines but we can't find [our friend Marina]...her parents are going crazy

Olga, friend of missing girl

"I haven't slept for days, and I don't plan to sleep tonight.

"I won't believe she's OK until I see it with my own eyes," he said.

Seconds later a doctor appears at the gates and along with the rest of the crowd Boris runs towards him, screaming out questions about his wife.

But he is one of the lucky ones.

The Russian Health Ministry says at least 90 of the hostages have lost their lives, either during or since Saturday morning's dramatic storming of the theatre.

Glimmers of hope

In a hall near the hospital, people assemble to hear regional chief of police Yuri Korovchuk read a list of known surnames of those alive and at hospital Number 13.

President Putin visits some of the injured in hospital
Despite Putin's apology, many relatives are angry

There are many disappointed faces.

At the back of the hall, three teenagers sit with tears in their eyes. Their friend Marina was not among the list of names called out.

"We've phoned all the emergency lines but we can't find her. Her parents are going crazy," says Olga, one of the teenagers.

The chief of police gently informs the audience of the emergency phone number for the address where the dead are being kept.

But he also offers one glimmer of hope.

Many of those hospitalised, he says, have yet to recover from the effects of the gas used during the storming and are unable to identify themselves.

"The list I have read out is not complete."

As the crowd bombard him with questions, he appeals for patience.

"The doctors are doing everything they can for your people, our people. Please let them do their work. And please stay calm."

Country's ordeal

Back at the hospital gates however, tensions flare when a young man being interviewed by one of the hordes of television crews criticises the war in Chechnya.

A woman responds angrily and the cameras turn on her.

"Don't even start talking about that. Fewer of the bandits died than our own people."

The hostage drama has of course been an ordeal for the whole country and not just the families of those trapped inside.

Vasily Dubov, a teacher who believed a pupil of his was in the hospital, said he would ignore the advice of security guards to go home and stay warm.

"Russians are all relatives, not by blood but by soul," he said.

"When one suffers we all suffer. That's why I'm here."

The BBC's Caroline Wyatt
"The families' anger is spilling over"
The BBC's Ben Brown in Moscow
"All hostages died of gas poisoning except one"

Siege reports

Key stories

Chechen conflict



See also:

26 Oct 02 | Europe
26 Oct 02 | Europe
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