From the Channel 4 news update 3 Sept 2004

"This might well turn out to be the most awful terrorist attack of our times. An ITN cameraman inside the school says there are at least a hundred dead bodies in the ruins - most of them will be children.

Somehow, this awful standoff has turned into everyone's worst nightmare and it will shake Russia to the core. Special forces are still battling the Chechen hostage takers inside the school building.

It is still unclear how it was triggered but it seems that a number of children tried to escape at around 10am British time, around the same time as the hostage takers had called for a vehicle to come and take away a number of dead bodies. The hostage takers started shooting at the children as they ran out of the building and followed them ouside still firing.

Russian forces outside returned fire and the whole situation erupted. It also appears the terrorists detonated the explosives that brought the school roof crashing down. Scores of children - many of them half-naked - ran to freedom amid ferocious gunfire and explosions that went on for over an hour.

Many were treated at the scene but at least three hundred are reported taken to hospital. Most were in their underwear - we understand that is because their clothes had been removed and soaked in water as their only way of staying hydrated during the two days held at gunpoint.

Initially just five of the hostage takers were reported to have been killed. Its believed there were between 17 and 40 of them. Some tried to escape through the crowds and confusion and a gunbattle went on outside a nearby house for over an hour. This situation is still going on four hours after it started - and promises to end up being as appalling as we all could imagine.