Tuesday, March 22, 2016– Three explosions took place in the Belgian capital of Brussels. As of 10:55 a.m. ET, the confirmed death toll is 31 people are dead and 170 are injured.
Two blasts took place at the Zaventem airport at 7:00 GMT. One attack occurred outside security checkpoints for ticketed passengers and near the airline check in counters. One of the attacks was a suicide bombing. Investigators are looking at the possibility that one of the explosions may have been caused by a bomb inside a suitcase. According to Maggie de Block, the Belgian health minister, 14 people died and 81 were injured in these explosions.
All flights have been cancelled at the airport until 6 a.m. on Wednesday.
The explosion that struck Maelbeek metro station, which is near the
European Quarter where much of the European Union is based, took place an hour later. The mayor of Brussels, Yvan Mayeur, stated that at least 20 people have died in the explosion at the metro station, but it is too early to state what the final number of victims will be. He did confirm that 106 people hve been injured in the metro station blast.
In response to the attacks, Belgian authorities have shut down all Brussels metro stations and are evacuating the city’s airport. They have also raised the terror threat in Belgium to it’s highest level, 4, meaning army soldiers can be sent into the streets for security purposes.
Belgium is still under serious threat.
An unexploded suicide vest, that is thought to belong to a third terrorist, was discovered at the Zaventem airport, according to an unconfirmed report by VTM. It was detonated in a controlled explosion by a bomb squad. RTBF reported that two suspicious packages were found at the National Pensions Office in Brussels. The South Tower has been evacuated and a bomb disposal unit is on site. Belgium’s royal family was evacuated in response to suspicious packages that were found at the Royal Palace.
Parents in Belgium has been told there is no need to panic and are being asked to pick up their children from school at their normal time, Oliver Milne writers. Flemish education minister, Hilde Crevits, understands the parents concerns and stated on VTM News that “Your children are secure and safe in school.” However, all after school clubs and school trips have been cancelled and extra security measures have been put in place in schools in Brussels and Flanders.
Rudi Vervoort, minister-president of the Brussels-Capital region said that public transportation had been shut down in Brussles, but the authorities would do everything in their power to reopen the surface networks today.
The headquarters of the European commission will be evacuated by Belgian police at 4 p.m. local time today. They Berlaymont building will be emptied so that police can perform a full security sweep of the building. Labour MEP Richard Corbett is currently locked in at the European parliament building nearby.
The community of Belgium is coming together in their time of crisis. The Belgian Taxi Drivers Union have urged its members to offer free rides to those stranded after the attacks. They are also asking all who are able to donate blood to help those who were injured in the attacks.
There has yet to be a claim of responsibility from any group, but the social media accounts linked to Islamic State militants have praised the attacks, hinting to their possible involvement.
The rest of the world is responding to the attacks as well.
In the United States, the Washington metro system announced that they will be increashing police patrols and K9 sweeps in the metro as a precaution.
Eurostar, a high-speed railway headquartered in Brussels have cancelled service between Brussels and London.
British police have increased presence at certain locations, particularly transport hubs such as London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
France has deployed 1,600 more police officers around the country.
Belgium has confirmed the identities of two of the assailants in the attacks. The third attacker fled the scene and is currently still being searched for.
The RIVAL staff sends our condolences and thoughts to those who were affected in these horrific attacks.