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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

120th Former Hostage Dies, Roshal Defends Use of Gas

A woman held hostage in the theater on Dubrovka has died, bringing the death toll among the captives to at least 120, while a doctor who helped treat the hostages on Monday defended the use of gas as the only possible solution.

The latest victim died of acute cardiac insufficiency, said Lyubov Zhomova, a spokeswoman for the Moscow health department.

Another 149 former hostages remain in city hospitals, six of them in grave condition, she said in a telephone interview. Of 501 former hostages who have been discharged from the hospitals, 30 have again applied for medical assistance.

Pediatric surgeon Leonid Roshal, speaking at a news conference, praised President Vladimir Putin for having the "courage" to make the move -- the only one that "gave a chance to save lives."

Sergei Yastrzhembsky, the Kremlin's spokesman on Chechnya, said there were about 1,000 doses of an antidote on hand outside the theater, but that he was not certain the doses were distributed among all the medics.

"I have doubts on this subject," Yastrzhembsky said at a news conference. "Whether the medics knew how to treat this type of sick people -- I think some of them knew; whether all of them knew, I have doubts about that too."

Rescue workers have said they used a conventional medicine against shock, not an antidote to the gas.

Most hostages said that they had noticed that a gas was being pumped into the hall before losing consciousness, making observers wonder what prevented the terrorists from making good on their threat to blow up the building.

Roshal suggested that the female terrorists hadn't received the order to do so from their leader, Movsar Barayev, who was outside the hall when the storming began.

Roshal also said that despite the hostage-takers' assurances that they were prepared to be killed, they didn't produce such an impression. "Our common opinion was that these people didn't really want to die," he said.