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The terror attack at Russia’s Crocus City Hall last Friday will not be easy for the survivors to overcome easily in the near future and Russian artist Alyona Kazinskaya is one of them. 

Her social media feed, which usually contains cheerful message and vivid floral paintings turned into a timeline of terror when she and her friend were caught up in the shooting. 

At least 143 people have been confirmed dead after armed assailants opened fire at Crocus City Hall near Moscow, which has been claied by the Islamic State militants. 

Gunshots, Not Special Effects

Kazinskaya and her friend brought the last-minute tickets to attend the concert of Soviet-era rock group “Picnic” in front of 6,200 people at the concert hall. First they thought to take their daughters along but then decided to go by themselves, she told Reuters in an interview.

At 8:10 pm, Kazinskaya posted her first 10-second audio message on her Telegram channel, sounding breathless and frightened amid loud bursts of gunfire. 

“I love you all. I’m in Crocus City Hall – Picnic. They’re shooting here, at the concert. I’m in the hall. Call the police.”

Kazinskaya said she quickly understood that that sounds she heard were not special effects, but gunshots. She tried to get the people around them to leave along with her friend but the exit was already huddled up. 

“We tried to get people up, we got them up, but people had already run to the exit and we couldn’t get through. At that moment they (the gunmen) entered the hall. Then I threw my friend to the floor and I said let’s crawl,” she said. 

Trembling Fingers, Scrambled Messages

The first thought that crossed her mind was to get out of the hall at any price. “My second thought was I’m wearing white, I’m a good target,” she added.

 

“And finally, the third thought was I’m going to write something now – yes I’m frightened but I’m going to put these messages in my (Telegram) channel because that way someone, somewhere will definitely hear them, find them and call someone.”

 

With her trembling fingers, she scrambled the letters on her phone to type three messages in quick succession.

 

“Please ring the police!!!!!”

“Crocus City Hall”

“Shooting”

 

By now the duo had managed to escape the hall but were still stuck in the building. The shooting had stopped by then but a new hazard unfolded. 

 

8:17 p.m. A one-word audio message. “Fire!”

‘I Love You. Goodbye’

The two friends took refuge in a toilet while trying to escape half a dozen times. But as smoke engulfed everything, they couldn’t see anything and had to keep retreating. 

 

At this point, Kazinskaya started to lose hope and at 8:23 pm, sent a four-second audio message, assuming it to be the last one: “I love you. Goodbye.”

 

Kazinskaya and her friend later managed to escape the building, with other people. She says it will be a long time before she goes to club or big concerts again. “I think society itself needs to be kinder,” she said. “Because we remember we’re human when something bad happens, but we need to be human every day.”

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