> After more than 24 hours in the sweltering heat of the school gymnasium in Beslan, one of the boys trapped inside could not take it any longer...
Summoning up his courage, he approached a hostage taker with a bayonet fixed to his assault rifle and asked him for a drink. It was probably the worst error that he could have made.
"Instead of giving him water, he drove his bayonet through the boy’s body," said Stanislav Tsarakhov, 10, another captive standing nearby. "I don't know if he died."
"When we were let out to go to the lavatory, some children would run into a room where there were plants in pots and they would eat them," she said.
"Others would hide the plants in their underwear and share them with their friends. But the hunger was not as bad as the thirst. Some children couldn't take it and would urinate into their hand and drink."
> As the hours progressed, the heat in the unventilated gym became unbearable. Some children fainted, other[s] vomited, and people began to strip to their underwear. "My grandson said, 'Raya, Raya, I'm so thirsty," said Raisa Tavaseyeva, whose 10-year-old grandson, Elbrus, uses a diminutive to address her... There was no consistency in who got water; it depended on which guerrilla accompanied hostages to the bathroom. Some of the guerrillas forced hostages to crawl to the bathroom and then fired into the roof to hurry them back.
> As panicking children and parents fled into the school, Elza Viktorovna, one of the teachers, began to remonstrate with the armed men, demanding that they should at least release the youngest children.
A gunman appeared to listen intently to her request, then asked: "Have you finished?" As she nodded he shot her in cold blood.
Nazira Gergaolova, whose granddaughter was among the hostages, watched in horror. "She was alive for a while, suffering lying there in the yard, but nobody could approach to take her away," she said.
> In the simple living room, Natasha's mother Olga, 53, sat with other women by her daughter's body, cradling her head in her hands.
"She was such a beautiful girl," she said as she embraced a group of visitors from the steady trickle that came. "Just look at the photographs."
Marina, 60, a friend of Natasha, said: "The children loved her. She was so gifted."
"My neighbour only recognised her daughter by her underwear," said Tamara, 52, tears streaming down her face. "Her head and one arm were missing." Another said: "We are strong people but I'm not sure the town will ever recover from this catastrophe."