More than a million people have been evacuated from nearly 2,500 buildings as a result of a wave of bomb hoaxes.
The false phone calls that began last month have left 170 Russian cities scrambling to deal with the evacuations, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Tuesday, citing a source within the emergency services.
The anonymous bomb threats began on Sept. 10, and previous estimates had placed the number of evacuations from schools, transport hubs, malls, and government agencies at 500,000 people.
“A total of more than 1.04 million people have been evacuated,” the unidentified source said. Nearly 80,000 Muscovites and residents of St. Petersburg have been cleared from 115 buildings over the past 24 hours alone, RIA reported.
Four Russian citizens abroad are suspected of using online calling service to make the anonymous threats, according to the head of the Federal Security Service.
FSB director Alexander Bortnikov estimated the monetary damage from the false bomb threats at 300 million rubles ($5.2 million).