Tuesday, March 22, 2016

MORNING JOE BREAKING NEWS: Brussels airport explosions kill and wound ‘several’: official

Multiple people are dead or wounded after explosions rocked Brussels airport and the city's subway this morning.

Many people have been killed or seriously injured in terrorist attacks at Brussels international airport and a city metro station, Belgium's PM says.

Two blasts tore through the departures area of Zaventem airport shortly after 08:00 local time (07:00 GMT).

An hour later, an explosion hit Maelbeek metro station. The airport and whole transport system are closed.

The attacks come four days after Salah Abdeslam, the main fugitive in the Paris attacks, was seized in Brussels.

Belgium has now raised its terror threat to its highest level.
Prime Minister Charles Michel called the attacks "blind, violent and cowardly", saying they were a "tragic moment in our country's history. I would like to call on everyone to show calmness and solidarity".

The Belgian prosecutor said it was "probably a suicide bomber" who struck the airport.

European Union president Donald Tusk said: "These attacks mark another low by the terrorists in the service of hatred and violence."

'Blood everywhere'
Belgian broadcaster VRT said 13 people were killed at the airport, with at least 35 people severely injured.
Some reports from the metro station speak of at least 10 deaths, but again there is no official confirmation.

The Belga news agency reports that shots were fired and shouts in Arabic were heard before the two explosions at the airport.
Map
Map

Rail transport to the airport has been halted and people have been told not to come. All flights have been diverted. 

Eurostar has cancelled all trains to and from Brussels.
Security has been stepped up at Gatwick and Heathrow airports and the UK Foreign Office has advised British nationals to avoid crowded areas in Belgium. UK PM David Cameron will chair a meeting of the Cobra response committee later on Tuesday morning.

Some reports say at least one of the explosions at Zaventem was close to a Starbucks store but this has not been confirmed.


Zach Mouzoun, arriving on a flight from Geneva, told France's BFM television: "It was atrocious. The ceilings collapsed. There was blood everywhere, injured people, bags everywhere. We were walking in the debris. It was a war scene."


France has stepped up security. President Francois Hollande has held a cabinet meeting to discuss the Belgian explosions. There is also extra security at Dutch airports.

The federal prosecutor, Fredere Van Leeuw, confirmed that the attack at Zaventem airport was carried out by a suicide bomber but gave no details about the second blast, writes Oliver Milne.


“It is too early to discuss any more details about the attackers,” Van Leeuw told journalists at the press conference.


People injured after Brussels blast

Exterior of Brussels airport following blast

People caught up in Brussels airport blast

Windows blown out at Brussels airport

Brussels airport check-in after blast

Airport staff comfort each other following attacks

Scene outside Malbeek train station

Smoke rising from the Maalbeek underground station Brussels

Passengers walk through tunnel following Malbeek blast

Man being treated by medics at Brussels airport

People being treated by medics at Maalbeek metro station

Ambulances outside Malbeek metro station
At least two explosions rocked the check-in zone of Brussels Airport Tuesday, killing and wounding “several” people, while another blast shook a metro station in the Belgian capital.

Officials shut down all public transport in the city and advised locals to stay where they were as the crisis unfolded.

Federal police later confirmed that an explosion occurred at Maalbeck metro station, which is located near European Union institution buildings.

Pictures from the airport showed bloodied victims, shattered glass and debris as well as smoke pouring from the terminal and passengers fleeing with their bags.

“There are several dead and wounded but we can’t say how many at this point,” a federal police spokesman said.

A security source told NBC News the explosion happened near check-in desk four in Departure Hall 1, which is used by international carriers including American Airlines.

Eyewitness Jef Versele was at the airport heading on a business trip to Rome when he heard an explosion.

“Soon after that one a second one hit — and everything came down,” he told NBC News. “There was dust everywhere, glass everywhere there was chaos. There were people on the floor everywhere. The roofing came down. It was quite a mess.”

Versele added: “A lot of people were in panic. I saw a lot of blood, a lot of people were injured. People were crying, on the floor, covered by parts of the roofing. I saw a lot of leg injuries, a lot of people couldn’t move anymore. There were quite a lot of people injured. In the departure hall — you saw people storming out, it was like run for your life.”
Roads and public transportation leading to the airport were shut and incoming flights were diverted.

Scenes from the subway explosion showed smoke pouring out of the station. Images posted on social media showed injured people receiving medical treatment on the sidewalk outside.

All trains, planes, trams and buses were halted in Brussels. The rapidly unfolding crisis caused cellphone networks in Brussels to jam, with officials urging people to use WhatsApp or Twitter because the networks were becoming saturated.

The incident comes amid a flurry of counterterrorism activity in the Belgian capital.

A raid in Brussels on Friday captured Europe’s most wanted man — Salah Abdeslam, suspected Paris terror attacks plotter and aborted suicide attacker.

Abdeslam was taken into custody along with several others. His capture has been seen as a potential goldmine of information for intelligence services — if he cooperates.

The 26-year-old and several of the attackers who laid siege to Paris on Nov. 13 had ties to Belgium.

On Monday, officials named another potential suspect and asked for public assistance in locating him.

Belgium’s foreign minister said following Abdeslam’s arrest that the suspect had been planning to “restart something” in Brussels — the suggestion of a new attack that was taken all the more seriously given the large amounts of heavy weapons found during his arrest. This article first appeared on NBCNews.com.

Brussels Explosions: Witnesses Describe Chaos of Airport, Subway Blasts. Multiple people are dead or wounded after explosions rocked Brussels airport and the city's subway Tuesday morning.

Eyewitness Jef Versele was at the airport heading on a business trip to Rome. He arrived at the terminal at 8:10 a.m., when he heard the first blast.

Related: Deadly Explosions Rock Airport, Subway in Brussels

"Soon after that one a second one hit — and everything came down," he told NBC News. "There was dust everywhere, glass everywhere. There was chaos, there was people on the floor everywhere. The ceilings came down. It was quite a mess."
"A lot of people were in panic," Versele said. "I saw a lot of blood, a lot of people were injured. People were crying, on the floor, covered by parts of the roofing.


"I saw a lot of leg injuries, a lot of people couldn't move anymore. There were quite a lot of people injured. In the departure hall — you saw people storming out. It was like run for your life."
Bomb explosion at Brussel airport. Apparent terrorist activity. Airport is on lockdown and being evacuated.

Multiple casualities. Some being taken to ambulances on luggage trolleys.
Just arrived at Schuman station after walking on the tracks.
Arrêt Maelbeek
Alexandre Brans, told AP: "The metro was leaving Maelbeek station when there was a really loud explosion. It was panic everywhere. There were a lot of people in the metro."
Fire brigade spokesman Pierre Meys told AFP: "Most of the wounded have been evacuated. The scene is rather chaotic."

The station is close to EU institutions. European Commission, the EU's executive arm, has told employees to stay indoors or at home. All meetings at EU institutions have been cancelled.

Ryan McGhee, a catering worker at a college in Brussels, told the BBC: "The entire city is in lockdown. People are calm at the moment but the atmosphere is tense."

Belgium is sending 225 extra troops to Brussels following the explosions, Belga said.

Belgium's Interior Minister Jan Jambon had said on Monday that the country was on the highest level of alert for possible revenge attacks after the capture of Salah Abdeslam.

He told Belgian radio: "We know that stopping one cell can... push others into action. We are aware of it in this case."
Zaventem airport is 11km (7 miles) north-east of Brussels and dealt with more than 23 million passengers last year.
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