Everything We Know About the Brussels Terror Attacks So Far
Three blasts hit the Belgium capital this morning, killing at least 26 and wounding at least 136.
A photo of Brussels airport after the two blasts this morning
Multiple blasts have hit the Belgian capital of Brussels, with two explosions at Brussels national airport at around 8AM and a third in the Metro system shortly after. So far, the death toll is 26, with 136 wounded, though both of those numbers could rise.
The two explosions at Zaventem airport took place in the departures hall, reportedly close to the American Airlines departures desk. Belgian authorities have confirmed that one of the blasts was caused by a suicide bomber, while local media report that the second was a bomb detonated from a distance. An eyewitness said that the second, louder explosion took down ceiling panels and destroyed pipes.
"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."
Belgian health minister Maggie De Block has said that 11 people died and 81 were injured in the airport blasts.
The blast on the Metro reportedly took place as a train was pulling into Maalbeck station. An eyewitness told POLITICO, "I was on the metro train pulling into [Maalbeck] station when there was a massive explosion. Lights went out, smoke everywhere, sounds of multiple explosions, everyone dropped to the floor."
La Stib, the Metro operator, has confirmed that 15 people were killed in the explosion at Maalbeck station, with 55 injured – 10 critically.
The attacks come four days after fugitive Salah Abdeslam, a suspected participant in November's Paris attacks, was arrested after a police shoot-out in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, where a number of people alleged to have been involved in the Paris attacks had lived. The Belgian terror level has now been raised to maximum, rail transport to the airport has been suspended, all flights have been diverted and Eurostar has suspended all trains to and from Brussels.
Libération newspaper reports that the border between France and Belgium is closed to all traffic, while extra police and soldiers have reportedly been sent to bolster security in Paris' two main airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly. French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve has said around 1,600 extra police will be deployed to borders, airports and stations, with 400 more focusing on Paris.
In the UK, the Metropolitan police's assistant commissioner Mark Rowley announced that, as a precaution, "forces across the UK have increased policing presence at key locations, including transport hubs, to protect the public and provide reassurance". He added that this deployment of extra officers was not based on any "specific information or intelligence".
Belgium's prime minister, Charles Michel, said in a televised press conference, "What we feared has happened," before calling for "calm and solidarity".
Numerous world leaders have commented on the situation. David Cameron tweeted, "I am shocked and concerned by the events in Brussels. We will do everything we can to help," while French President François Hollande said, "I express my full solidarity with the Belgian people. The whole of Europe has been hit through the Brussels attacks."
European Council president Donald Tusk said the bombings marked "another low" by terrorists, adding: "I am appalled by the bombings this morning at Zaventem airport and the European district in Brussels which have cost several innocent lives and injured many others."
The Telegraph reports that two suspected terrorists, Mohamed Abrini and Najim Laachraoui, who were allegedly involved in the November Paris attacks – and are yet to be captured – will likely be investigated as suspects in today's attacks.
For updates on the ongoing situation, visit VICE News.