More Than Two Dozen Killed In Attacks Across Brussels, Belgium
Belgian officials say the casualty toll from three explosions in the capital on Tuesday morning is 26 dead and at least 136 wounded.
Belgian Health Minister Maggie de Block says 11 people are dead and 81 have been injured in twin explosions at the Brussels airport.
A Brussels subway spokesman says 15 people have been killed and 55 were injured in an explosion at the Maelbeek train station.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which come after a top suspect in the deadly Nov. 13 attacks in Paris was arrested Friday in a massive police raid in Brussels.
More than 200 flights to Brussels have been diverted or canceled. The Brussels airport has been shut down and airport security has been tightened across Europe.
Anthony Deloos, an employee of services company Swissport, said the first explosion took place near a counter where customers pay for overweight baggage. He and colleague said second blast was near the Starbucks.
“Twenty meters (yards) from us we heard a big explosion,” and shredded paper was flying through the air, Deloos said. He first thought a billboard had fallen down, but a colleague told him to run.
“I jumped into a luggage chute to be safe,” he said.
In a statement marked “aanslagen” – terror attacks in Dutch – the prosecutor’s office in Brussels has warned people to stay inside until the situation is cleared up.
After a few hours of uncertainty on the explosion during morning rush hour, it was the first official indication that indeed, they were expected to be terror attacks.
Eurostar has suspended high-speed rail service to Brussels-Midi station following the attacks at the airport and a metro station in Belgium
The rail service links London with Brussels and Paris via the Channel Tunnel.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says Belgium has “again been hit by cowardly and murderous attacks. Our hearts go out to the victims and next of kin. The Netherlands stands ready to help and support our southern neighbors in any possible way.”
Rutte says that “extra alertness is necessary, also in our country. We will take all necessary precautionary measures.” Rutte called a meeting Tuesday of his government’s Ministerial Crisis Committee to discuss the attacks.
The Dutch anti-terror authority said the country’s threat level was unchanged at “substantial.” It said extra security measures would be in place at the country’s airports and borders.
British airports are increasing security and Prime Minister David Cameron is convening the government’s emergency committee after the explosions at Brussels airport and on the city’s subway system.
Cameron said Britain would “do everything we can to help.”
Britain’s official terrorist threat level stands at “severe,” the second-highest level on a five-point scale, meaning an attack is highly likely.
Gatwick airport said that “as a result of the terrible incidents in Brussels we have increased our security presence and patrols around the airport.” Heathrow said it was working with police to provide a “high-visibility” presence on light of the attacks.
Germany’s justice minister says “today is a black day for Europe” following the attacks in Brussels.
Heiko Maas said Tuesday on Twitter that “the horrible events in Brussels affect us all.”
He added: “We are steadfastly at the Belgians’ side.”
French President Francois Hollande is holding an emergency meeting after explosions targeted Brussels airport and a metro station at morning rush hour.
The blasts came days after the arrest of the top suspect in last year’s Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, in Brussels.
Hollande is meeting with Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
France remains in a state of emergency after the Nov. 13 attacks, which killed 130 people. Several attackers were also killed.
Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov tells Russian news agencies that authorities will re-evaluate security at Russian airports. In 2011, a suicide bombing at a Moscow airport killed 37 and injured many more.
Zach Mouzoun, who arrived on a flight from Geneva about 10 minutes before the first blast, told France’s BFM television that the second louder explosion brought down ceilings and ruptured pipes, mixing water with blood from victims.
“It was atrocious. The ceilings collapsed,” he said. “There was blood everywhere, injured people, bags everywhere.”
“We were walking in the debris. It was a war scene,”
An Associated Press reporter saw several people with facial injuries following an explosion in a Brussels metro station near European Union headquarters. At least two people were seen being moved on stretchers
Alexandre Brans, 32, who was wiping blood from his face, said: “The metro was leaving Maelbeek station when there was a really loud explosion. It was panic everywhere. There were a lot of people in the metro.”
Police say that at least one person was killed when two explosions ripped through the departure hall at Brussels airport.
“One person has died and perhaps there are several more,” said a police official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the situation was developing.
The official urged people to stay away from the airport.
Two explosions ripped through Brussels airport Tuesday during the morning rush hour as hundreds of passengers were trying to check in. Airport authorities said the explosions caused several injuries.
Airport spokeswoman Anke Fransen said: “There were two blasts in the departure hall. First aid team are in place for help.”
Passengers were led onto the tarmac and the crisis center urged people not to come to the airport.
The explosions happened only days after the prime suspect in the Paris attacks Salah Abdeslam was arrested in Brussels.