Eleven people were killed and 126 were wounded in a blast that struck a metro station in the Belarussian capital Minsk.The authorities said the blast is suspected to be a terrorist act, according to Xinhua.
"126 victims were hospitalized, 22 of them - in serious condition, 30 - are moderately wounded," said Belarussian Health Minister Vasyliy Zharko.
The explosion hit Minsk`s Oktyabrskaya station, a key transit point in the city`s subway system, at an after-work rush hour.
The cause of the explosion was still unknown, but President Alexander Lukashenko said he did not rule out the possibility of outside forces plotting behind it.
Initial probes showed that the blast ripped through the second compartment of a train packed with commuters, filling it with thick smoke, smashing glasses and crumbling fixtures inside the subway station.
Badly wounded people on stretchers were carried out of the station while dozens of the wounded were treated by medics on the spot and others were rushed to local hospitals, witnesses said.
The president arrived at the scene shortly after the blast, extending condolences to the victims and laid flowers to pay tribute to those killed.
Speaking at an emergency meeting at the night, he called the blast a "serious provocation" against the authorities and demanded round-the-clock investigations into the causes and that the perpetrators be brought to justice.
"Results must be accruing every day," the president told the meeting, ordering the establishment of an investigation group led by the Prosecutor`s General Office.
"You must work days and nights. I stress there must be results every day," the president said.
Lukashenko also said that Russia has offered help in the investigation, and that relevant Belarussian departments will cooperate with the Russian side.
Local media reported that deputy prosecutor-general Andrei Shved, who heads the investigation group, said the blast had qualified as a terrorist attack. But the official did not give details.
The deadly explosion in central Minsk crippled the capital`s public transport system, causing severe congestions on the streets. The two lines of Minsk`s metro system, which intersect at the Oktyabrskaya station, stopped operation while police cordoned off the blast scene.