Explosions at Brussels Airport and Maalbeek metro station: 31 dead, 300 injured

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Update 23 March 2016 22:12 CET

Two explosions were heard in the departure hall of Brussels Airport at 07:57 Tuesday morning, in rows 4-5 (near the Brussels Airlines ticket office) and 11 (in the charter zone) of the registration area. The two bombs contained nails for a maximum damage to people; they were brought to the airport hidden in suitcases transported on trolleys. An unexploded bomb has been discovered at the airport. This third bomb has been destroyed by security services of the Army. A fourth bomb was discovered in the evening, which prompted police to re-establish a security cordon within the airport.

The Belgian prosecutor says the explosions were caused a suicide attack.

The airport has been evacuated. Last flight landed at Brussels Airport 08:22 local time. All air traffic is stopped and all arriving planes were diverted. Road traffic, trains and buses to/from the airport were at a halt. Airport remained closed for the whole day and also on Wednesday, in order to clean the rubble and prepare it for normal operation. However, some ferry flights will operate on Wednesday, either to bring back aircraft stranded in neighbouring airports, or to ferry aircraft to Africa for bringing back stranded passengers. Since the personnel has not yet been allowed inside the airport building where the experts of the scientific police are still at work, the airport will also be closed Thursday and Friday. Cargo traffic will be allowed on a limited basis.

People who were in aircraft have been gathered in hangars, where some tried to sleep on the floor,  pending some additional security measures, before being allowed to leave either to go home or to hotels in the vicinity.

Another explosion was heard at metro station Maelbeek close to the European institutions at 09:11. A bomb was actioned by a suicide bomber identified as Khalid El Bakraoui and exploded in the second carriage of a train entering the station.

The tragic death toll at the airport: 16 dead and 92 injured (including 6 police, one of which in serious condition with heavy burns and losing his leg, and 4 Brussels Airlines employees). Since some victims were American, the FBI is sending an investigation teal to Brussels.

The tragic death toll at the Maelbeek metro station:  at least 15 dead, 106 injured of which 10 critically

Metro stations Schuman and Maelbeek were evacuated. The whole metro network is stopped. Brussels North, Central, South, Schuman and Luxembourg railway stations have also been evacuated. Thalys and Eurostar high-speed trains are suspended. Train service from Brussels resumed at 16:00 but some stations remain closed.

The terror threat has been raised to level 4, the highest one in the country. Brussels was locked down: people were asked to remain in their offices, workplaces and schools or at home.

The so-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks. Three suspects have been identified by a camera of the airport. They came to the airport by taxi. The men in black at the left, identified as Najim Laachraoui and Ibrahim El Bakraoui (the brother of Khalid) have been killed when they activate their explosives; it is believed that their left glove hides a detonator. The man in white at the right is actively searched; his bomb did not detonate. He is on the run.

King Philip of Belgium has addressed the country in a brief message on national television Tuesday at 19:00. On Wednesday morning he visited some of the victims at the Erasmus hospital in Brussels. At 12:00, together with Queen Mathilde and Belgian and European officials at the European Parliament, he participated in a minute of silence held all over Belgium. In the afternoon he visited the airport before going to the military hospital of Neder-over-Heembeek for a visit to other victims. Later he also visited the Maelbeek subway station.

An emergency telephone line has been set up: 1771. Questions about family or friends at the airport +32 (0)2 753 73 00.

Many airports all over the world have reinforced their security measures after the Brussels attacks.

Facebook has activated a Safety notification to enable people in the Brussels area to confirm they are in safety.

Follow other developments in the forum topic: http://www.luchtzak.be/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=58235

A detailed testimony of a passenger who was at Brussels Airport during the events: http://www.luchtzak.be/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=58235&start=100#p330686

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