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At least 34 dead in Brussels blasts

DEADLY: A picture posted on social media shows debris after two explosions rocked the departure hall at Brussels Airport


    Mar 23, 2016

    At least 34 dead in Brussels blasts


    AT LEAST 34 people were killed yesterday morning in Brussels after two enormous explosions hit its international airport and a third went off at a metro station in the capital's European Union district an hour later.

    According to news agencies, 14 people were killed at the Brussels Airport and 20 in the subway bombing, while 30 others were wounded.

    Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said there were "numerous" dead, the New York Times reported.

    "We were fearing terrorist attacks, and that has now happened," he added.

    Mr Michel issued an appeal to the population to "avoid all movement", as Belgium braces itself for possible further attacks.

    At least one of the two explosions at the airport, located some 15km from Brussels, appeared to have been set off by a suicide bomber, officials said.

    A witness said he heard shouts in Arabic shortly before two blasts struck the packed airport departure lounge, Reuters reported.

    Witnesses said the first explosion took place close to the lifts in the left wing of the departure hall.

    The second was closer to a Starbucks cafe, which is in the centre of the hall.

    The legs of some of those killed at the airport were shattered, as if the blast came from a piece of luggage nearby, an airport worker who helped carry bodies said.

    The three blasts occurred four days after the arrest of French citizen Salah Abdeslam in Brussels, a prime suspect in the November militant attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

    Belgian police had been on alert since for any reprisal action.

    The metro station hit by the explosion was Maelbeek, close to European Union institutions.

    The local VRT broadcaster carried a photograph of a metro carriage at a platform with doors and windows completely blown out, its structure deformed and the interior mangled and charred.

    All public transport in Brussels was shut down following the blast.

    The Brussels Airport said it had cancelled all flights until at least 6am local time today. The complex has been evacuated and trains to the airport have been stopped.

    All three main long-distance rail stations in Brussels were closed and train services on the cross-channel tunnel from London to Brussels were suspended.

    The blasts also triggered concern across western Europe, particularly France, which immediately closed its border with Belgium.

    Meanwhile, it remains unclear how ideologically committed Abdeslam is to the Middle East-based Islamic State in Iraq and Syria extremist group. AGENCIES