The CNN affiliate in Brussels, Belgium reported two explosions occurred on March 22, 2016. Information was released at 7:25 a.m. UTC+01:00 (Central European Time) and indicated the Federal Police stated there appeared to have been two explosions based on the sounds heard.
According to The Telegraph, at 7:28 a.m. the explosions were confirmed. There were two pillars of smoke coming from the building, based on photos taken by people fleeing the airport.
As a result of the explosions in the Zaventem Airport in Brussels was evacuated and all flights have been cancelled. Additionally, any rail travel to the airport was diverted. The authorities state it is too soon to confirm the explosions might be a terrorist attack.
At 7:44 a.m. Henry Samuel reporting for The Telegraph stated, two counters were affected in the American Airlines departure area. He indicated there were two victims who suffered serious wounds from the explosion. First aid and emergency responders were dispatched to the scene to make evaluations. At 7:51 a.m. there were unconfirmed reports there were at least 11 people dead.
An image of the Brussels airport, taken from outside, shows the floor-to-ceiling windows were blown out on the second floor. Other photos show ceiling tiles littering the floor, as well as, victims with multiple cuts. In an image of dazed people exiting the building a woman, grasping her son with one hand mopped blood off her face with a piece of cloth using the other hand.
Alex Rossi told Sky News,”I could feel the building move.” While describing the shocked and dazed people, he stated there were two explosions. He further stated there were rumors of a terrorist attack at the Brussels airport.
At 8:13 a.m. Belga news in Belgium indicated warnings were shouted out in Arabic prior to the explosions. Jef Versele, 40, told reporters he was approaching a check-in counter when he heard the explosions. He said, “Everything was coming down. Glassware. It was chaos, it was unbelievable. It was the worst thing.”
Brussels was the city Salah Abdeslam was arrested in, as a result, the city has been on high alert for terrorist attacks. Abdeslam was taken into custody for his alleged association with the terrorists who killed many people in a series of suicide bombings and attacks in Paris, France, in November 2015.
UPDATE: 8:25 a.m. Unconfirmed reports indicated there was a third explosion at the Maalbeek Metro station in Brussels, approximately 11.5 km away from the airport.
UPDATE: 8:38 a.m. The reports indicate at least 35 people injured and as many as 13 have been reported dead. The unconfirmed Metro station blast is reported to be close to European Union buildings and there may also have been another explosion at the Schuman station.
UPDATE: 8:49 a.m. According to a Belgium state news source, the airport explosions were part of a “suicide attack.” This is also unconfirmed.
UPDATE: 10:06 a.m. Belguim’s deputy Prime Minister asked that cell phones not be used due to the over-saturation of the cellular system. All roads between Belguim and France have been closed. Paris airports have added extra military personnel and have raised their terror alerts as a result of the explosions in Brussels.
The confirmed death toll has been reported; at least 21.
This is an ongoing story, The Public Slate will continue to update as further details emerge.
By Cathy Milne
CNN: Reports of 2 explosions at Brussels airport
The Telegraph: Brussels Zaventem airport explosions: Multiple injuries reported as two blasts rock terminal building – latest updates
Image Courtesy of Hunter Desportes’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License