At least 21 dead as blasts rock Brussels airport, metro

At least 21 dead as blasts rock Brussels airport, metro
At least 21 dead as blasts rock Brussels airport, metro

BRUSSELS: A string of explosions rocked Brussels airport and a city metro station today, killing at least 21 people in apparently coordinated attacks, officials said.

Two explosions targeted the main hall of Zaventem Airport, with a third hitting the Maalbeek metro station near the European Union’s main buildings, just as commuters were making their way to work in rush hour.

Pierre Meys, spokesman for the Brussels fire brigade, told AFP at least 21 people had been killed — 11 at the airport and “around ten” more at the metro station.

There were chaotic scenes at the airport as passengers fled in panic, with a thick plume of smoke rising from the main terminal building. The blasts smashed the windows of the departure hall and sent ceiling tiles shattering to the floor.

“We heard the explosion and felt the blowback,” Jean-Pierre Lebeau, a French passenger who had just arrived from Geneva, told AFP, adding that he had seen wounded people and “blood in the elevator”.

Witnesses told Belga news agency there had been shots and shouts in Arabic before the blasts hit the airport on the northwest outskirts of Brussels.

At Maalbeek station, at least 15 people with bloodied faces were being treated by emergency services on the pavement, an AFP reporter said.

The explosions triggered a transport shutdown in the city that is home to the headquarters of both the EU and NATO. Flights were halted with metro, tram and bus services all suspended.

“These attacks mark another low by the terrorists in the service of hatred and violence,” said EU President Donald Tusk.

The bloodshed comes days after the dramatic arrest in Brussels on Friday of Salah Abdeslam — the prime suspect in the Paris terror attacks claimed by the Islamic State group that killed 130 people in November — after four months on the run.(Agencies)

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