MOSCOW, Dec. 29 -- A female suicide bomber blew herself up at a railway station in southern Russia on Sunday, killing at least 16 people, authorities said.
A total of over 40 others, including a nine-year-old girl, were injured in the explosion, which occurred at 12:45 p.m. Moscow time (0845 GMT) in Volgograd, a city near the volatile North Caucasus region, regional law enforcement agencies told local media.
The suicide bomber detonated her explosives in front of the metal detection arches inside the main entrance to the railway station, local media reported.
TV footage showed the railway station was cordoned off and ringed with ambulances and police cars.
A video clip aired by the Russiya-24 TV channel recorded the moment of the blast. The main building of the railway station was suddenly rocked by a powerful explosion inside, with heavy smokes spewing from the entrance following a sparkling flame.
"The investigative department of the Investigative Committee for Volgograd region launched a criminal case in relation to the explosion," said committee spokesperson Vladimir Markin.
The railway station's security system prevented the suicide bomber from entering the waiting room and thus averted greater casualties, he said, adding that the bomb was no less powerful than 10 kilograms of TNT.
Policemen searching the site found an unexploded grenade after the blast. "When specialists were examining the site of the blast, they found an unexploded F-1 grenade, which was rendered harmless, " Markin added.
According to the Emergency Situations Ministry's regional branch, there were no emissions of toxic agents after the blast. The ministry has sent an airplane with a medical team to Volgograd to take the injured to Moscow for treatment.
Volgograd governor Sergei Bozhenov said the first three days of the New Year will be declared mourning days in the region for victims of the deadly explosion.
President Vladimir Putin instructed the government to take all measures to assist those wounded in the explosion, said his spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.