Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Brussels hit by explosions at Zaventem airport and metro station!

Brussels is in lockdown after explosions at an airport and metro station, with reports of multiple casualties.
Two explosions struck Zaventem airport and a separate blast hit a metro station near European Union buildings in the Belgian capital shortly after.

The Belgian prosecutor confirmed that the airport explosions were caused by a suicide attack. All flights were cancelled, arriving planes were being diverted and Belgium’s terror alert was raised to its maximum level. Security was also tightened at all Paris airports.

The explosions took place in the departure hall at about 8am local time. TV pictures showed people fleeing the terminal, while smoke billowed from the roof of the building. A false ceiling collapsed, causing lots of dust and smoke. The airport has been closed and people advised not to travel to the area.

One witness, Gil Durand, told Le Soir that the first explosion occurred in the departure lounge, followed by another a few seconds later. “The ambulances arrived slowly, people were evacuated, there was a lot of smoke,” she said. She added that many of the injured were wearing the uniforms of Brussels airport and Brussels Airlines.

Controls have been stepped up at Charleroi airport, about 46km south of Brussels.
Rescue workers set up a makeshift treatment centre in a local pub near the entrance to the Maelbeek metro station, not far from the headquarters of the European Union.

Dazed and shocked commuters streamed from the metro entrances as police tried to set up a security cordon.

Britain called a meeting of its crisis response committee, as international travel security measures were stepped up. The Dutch military strengthened security at airports and borders and London’s major airports said they were working to provide a high police presence.

European security officials have been braced for a major attack for weeks, and warned that Islamic State was actively preparing. The arrest of Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam in Brussels last week heightened those fears. Investigators said many people involved in the November attacks that killed 130 people were still on the loose.

After Abdeslam was arrested, Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders said authorities learned he had created a new network around him and had access to several weapons, though there was no immediate indication that he or the Islamic State group had any involvement in Tuesday’s attacks.

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