Thu, Sep 30, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Moscow kids get dog tags with anti-terror `passport'

BESLAN AFTERMATH To improve school security, children will get bomb-proof identification tags and instructions to cope with with terrorist attacks


Russian school children are to wear military-style dog tags and carry "passports" displaying their identity and basic medical information to improve school security in the wake of the Beslan tragedy.

Children in southeastern Moscow will try out the new documents, starting at the end of the year, with the scheme then moving to cover all of the capital's 1 million pupils.

If successful, the program will be adopted across Russia.

The dog tags will be tucked inside the passport, a small document containing the child's name, fingerprints, a photo-graph, and next of kin. It will also hold basic medical data such as blood group, allergies or illnesses.

The metal discs can be left in the passport or hung around the neck, and are designed to withstand a fire or bomb blast.

One of the major problems confronting emergency workers at the Beslan siege, in which at least 329 people, including 150 children, died, was identifying the dead and the needs of the wounded.

The distribution of relief aid has been delayed because authorities are struggling to work out who was in the school.

More than 60 bodies remain unidentified because of the level of disfigurement caused by the blast.

The passport will contain simple instructions of what to do in the event of a flood, fire, road accident, metro emergency or terrorist attack.

Valeri Muliar, of the Moscow Duma's security and legislation committee, helped devise the passport.

He said it contained the following advice for a terrorist attack: "Keep calm. Remember: help will come. If you hear shooting, lie on the floor. Cover your head with arms or satchel. Try to keep away from the windows and doors."

Muliar said: "Detailed instructions will also be given by a teacher who would explain how to keep calm, what kind of help will come and what is the right way to behave."

He said officials were also working on a booklet designed to offer children further advice on how to deal with a terrorist attack.

Security measures around schools in North Caucuses have been strengthened since the Beslan tragedy. Police officers, armed with an AK47 automatic rifle, are stationed outside most schools.

However, it was not clear when the passports would be introduced in the North Caucuses region.

In North Ossetia, the grief of the relatives of those who died in the Beslan attack could explode into violence against their neighbors when mourning ends, a former negotiator from the siege from neighboring Ingushetia said on Tuesday.

"The situation is balanced between war and peace," said Ruslan Aushev, the ex-president of Ingushetia, which borders the North Ossetia region.

Aushev walked alone into the school on the second day of the siege and persuaded militants to free 25 people, mostly infants.

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