A violent storm swept through Moscow area Monday, leaving 13 people dead and dozens injured as freak winds toppled hundreds of trees, officials said.
“The storm killed 13 people and 70 others have been seriously injured,” Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin said, according to Interfax.
Two more deaths were reported later, with the investigative committee of the Moscow region saying that an 11-year-old girl and a 57-year-old man were killed, one by a falling tree and the other a flying fence.
Earlier, investigators said that the victims were mostly killed by falling trees and various structures, including a bus stop. Investigators travelled to the scenes of the accidents and questioned witnesses.
The injured were being treated at 10 different medical facilities in the capital, the local health department told AFP, warning that the death toll could rise.
Sobyanin expressed his condolences, saying the tragedy “is unprecedented”.
“It’s due to the fact that the storm hit in the middle of the day, which is why there is such a large number of victims,” he said.
Sobyanin had earlier written on Twitter: “Several hundred trees were felled,” adding: “We are taking necessary measures to deal with the consequences.”
Moscow emergencies services dispatched units to remove the downed trees but had no information about any serious material damage, a spokesman told AFP by phone.
The weather caused delays at Moscow’s airports and the express train service to Vnukovo airport was halted as workers removed a tree from the line.
The director of the Russia’s Gidromedtsentr weather service Roman Vilfand told Russian agencies that wind speed reached 22 metres (yards) per second during the hurricane and that another storm could hit the capital overnight.