Several explosions have rocked Brussels, the capital of the European Union this morning, at the airport and the public transportation system. So far 31 have been confirmed dead and 250 injured at the two sites, the national airport and the metro station Maelbeek, according to Belgian authorities.
See also: Photo of the suspects at the airport
Belgium is now reinforcing security around its nuclear power plants. It has been reported by a representative of Engie, the energy operator, that Tihange and Doel nuclear plants has been evacuated.
Another explosion heard at Rue de loi was a controlled one, the RTBF reported, possibly of an undetonated device or a suspect package.
“Our fears have become reality,” the Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel said speaking after the attacks. Belgium will be sending 225 extra troops to Brussels following the attacks. Belgium has officially announced three days of mourning.
The borders between France and Belgium were also closed in the aftermath of the attack.
A Kalashnikov weapon and an undetonated explosive belt were retrieved at the site of the airport. Security officials have already began to review and extract information from the security cameras at the airport.
Raids by the anti-terror units of the police in Brussels are ongoing in the neighborhoods of Schaerbeek and Jette.
It has been reported that all university campuses in Brussels and Wallonia are being evacuated.
At 07:45, two explosions were heard at the airport in Zaventem, which is the main airport of the European capital, Belgium. The toll has kept rising, currently standing at 14 deaths and 81 wounded at the airport . Belgian authorities has confirmed that it was a suicide attack at the airport.
Shots were fired, and Arabic shouted, before the two explosions took place BELGA news agency reported.
Airport spokeswoman Anke Fransen said: “There were two blasts in the departure hall” … “[A] First aid team are in place for help.”
AP reports that passengers were led onto the tarmac and the crisis center urged people not to come to the airport.
Belgian police have confirmed there are “several dead”. Social Media reports that more bombs were discovered at the airport.
Belgian media and REUTERS report that there are several injured people in the Airport’s departure hall. Moreover, local media say that one of the explosions took place near the American Airlines check-in desk.
No planes are currently landing at Brussels Zaventem airport, which is in lockdown. Airport officials confirmed to New Europe that the airport is closed, it will remain closed until at least 11am of Wednesday 23 March. Planes are being diverted to Frankfurt, Liege and other airports.
Maelbeek metro station explosion
Another explosion was confirmed at Maelbeek metro station which is close to the European Commission headquarters and the European Parliament. Authorities confirm 20 deaths and 55 injured, the most serious of which were initially moved to the adjacent Thon hotel. One bomb was reportedly found undetonated, and Belgian bomb technicians were sent to Maelbeek. The explosion occurred at 09:11.
The Daily Mail is reporting that two suspects were arrested a mile from the Maelbeek metro station at around 11am.
The situation in Brussels
The mobile telephone services in Brussels are congested, and not fully functional.
Gare Central has also been evacuated. The public transport system has now been closed and the Belgian crisis center recommends for all citizens to stay where they are.
The STIB, Brussels’ public transport agency, announced tram 93, 92 and a number of buses will be operational in order to allow people to get home.
All trains inbound to Belgium are no longer running, including the Eurostar train which runs from London and Paris to Brussels.
According to the authorities Brussels train stations will reopen at 4 PM.
Belgium held a National security council this morning. The whole of Belgium has moved to Alert level 4, the highest possible alert level. All schools are closed in Brussels, children already in school are not authorised to leave. The main tribunal, the Palais de Justice, was also evacuated.
Crisis Center Belgium has said that Telenet hotspots are free and accessible in Brussels to try and reduce mobile network saturation.
The Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel, advised all citizens to remain where they are.
St. Pierre hospital was requesting blood donations from citizens, but are now full. If you would like to donate blood please check with hospitals before you travel there.
The EU response came through the European Commission spokesperson, Margaritis Schinas, who posted a picture on Twitter showing President Jean-Claude Juncker and Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva, working together to ensure security of staff and premises around the EU headquarters in Brussels. Schinas stressed that the European Commission’s thoughts are with the victims and he ended saying: “We live free we stay safe.”
European Union president Donald Tusk said: “These attacks mark another low by the terrorists in the service of hatred and violence.”
The UK has convened a Cobra emergency meeting to be chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron following this morning’s attacks.
Severe controls are already in place at the Charleroi airport, with the army filtering travelers.
As a result of the events, additional patrols are being deployed at Schiphol airport, Rotterdam and Eindhoven. Checks are also carried out at the borders with Belgium, while the Netherlands is also raising its terror alert. Supplementary measures at the Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Paris officially were also announced.
Last time a terror attack took place at the Brussels airport was in 1979, when Palestinian terrorists threw grenades.
It remains unknown if the explosion is linked with the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, the main suspect in the fatal Paris attacks in November which caused the death of 130 people.