At least 37 people died as two suspected terrorist bombs ripped through the central Moscow metro system during Monday morning`s rush hour, the emergencies ministry said, according to RIA Novosti.

The first blast occurred at around 8:00 a.m. (05:00 GMT), killing at least 23 people and injuring 18, many of them seriously.

A RIA Novosti employee who was on the train said the blast occurred between the Lubyanka and Okhotny Ryad metro stations close to the Kremlin.

The second blast occurred some 20 minutes later at the nearby Park Kultury station and killed at least 14 and injured at least 7. The carriage hit by the blast in still on the platform.

Prosecutors said the bombs, each with the equivalent strength of 2 kg of TNT, were denoted by suicide bombers.

A police source told RIA Novosti that the blasts bore all the hallmarks of "a well-planned terrorist attack."

With central Moscow at a standstill, helicopters are being used to evacuate the injured.

Russia`s top investigator Vladimir Markin said that an investigation on terrorism charges had been launched.

If terrorism is confirmed as the cause of the blasts, this will be the first major terrorist incident in Russia outside of the North Caucasus since 2004, when hundreds of people died in two plane bombings. The same series of attacks culminated in the deaths of over 300 people, many of then children, when Chechen terrorists seized a school in Beslan.

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