On Monday, an explosion between two metro stations in St. Petersburg, Russia killed 11 people and injured 39 more. If you happen to be an American in St. Petersburg right now, either as a traveler or an expat, you may want to consider donating blood in St. Petersburg or helping victims of the bombings in other ways. The blast was caused by an unidentified explosive device left in a train car; another explosive device was found at a second metro station, but was fortunately disabled. Although the investigation into the bombing is ongoing, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has described the event as a “terrorist act,” according to CNN.
Information about donating blood as a non-citizen in Russia is hard to come by. Russia has a chronic blood shortage. Unlike in the United States, it is common for people in Russia to be paid for blood donation, and as the documentary film Blood points out, many people rely on donating for money. In 2013, a law went into effect that banned paying people to donate blood, but the blood supply dipped so sharply that the law was repealed after only a few months. Apparently, there has been discussion in recent years of allowing non-citizens to donate blood in Russia, but it is unclear if those measures have gone through. If you are currently in St. Petersburg and you are interested in donating blood, the best thing to do is simply contact local health organizations and ask about donor eligibility.
It can be hard to know what to do in the wake of a tragedy like the St. Petersburg explosions, but these are ways you can help if you’re in the area now.
1. Look into donating blood.
As previously stated, information about donating blood in St. Petersburg as a non-citizen is scarce, but you can find out more by reaching out to local health organizations like the St. Petersburg Regional Branch of the Russian Red Cross.
2. Consider donating to the Russian Red Cross.
Check out the website for the Russian Red Cross.
3. Offer transportation services.
The Russian news agency TASS reports that all metro stations in the St. Petersburg area are currently closed. In response, a number of private transport companies have offered free services to help people get around. If you are affiliated with a transportation company in the area, or you simply have access to a car, consider helping people who have been stranded by the metro shutdown to get to where they need to go.
4. Follow the requests of local authorities.
A lot of chaos follows a catastrophic event like this, as police, paramedics, and other officials work to aid victims, ensure people’s safety, and restore order. One of the best things you can do is simply follow the advice of local authorities. If, for example, they are requesting that people steer clear of certain areas, do so.
5. Tweet your support of victims.
Tweeting about a devastating attack may seem like a trivial way to support victims, but it doesn’t hurt to let people know that you stand in solidarity with victims of the bombing and that you’re hoping for their safety and recovery.
Keep your eye on the news as this situation continues to unfold; further opportunities to help may emerge as time goes on. In the meantime, the U.S. Embassy in Russia and the U.S. State Department have urged U.S. citizens currently in Russia to contact their loved ones to assure them of their safety.