Terror strikes Belgium: Several killed in ISIS attacks on airport, metro station
Brussels: Around 35 people were killed and over 200 injured on Tuesday in a series of explosions that ripped through Brussels airport and a metro train, the latest attacks claimed by Islamic State militant group to rock Europe.
Security was tightened across the jittery continent and transport links paralysed after the bombings that Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel branded "blind, violent and cowardly".
"This is a day of tragedy, a black day," Michel said on national television.
The terror attacks come four days after the arrest of the Paris terror attack suspect in the Belgian capital.
A police officer stands guard at the entrance of Brussels Airport, in Zaventem. Pic/AFP
In what looked like a coordinated terror strike, a suicide bomber was apparently involved in the airport carnage where two quick explosions just after 8 am left a part of the departure hall looking like a war zone. At least 34 people were killed and over 30 injured, Belgian media said.
A victim receives first aid by rescuers, on March 22, 2016 near Maalbeek metro station in Brussels. Photo: AFP
An Indian woman crew member of Jet Airways, which had just landed at Brussels, was injured and rushed to a hospital, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted. The plane had taken off from Delhi.
It was not immediately clear how the crew member got wounded. An hour earlier, another Jet plane had landed -- from Mumbai.
Indian External Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted, "I am in touch with Mr Manjeev Puri Indian Ambassador in Brussels. He has informed me that so far there is no report of any Indian casualty. However, an Indian lady crew member of Jet Airways is injured. She has been rushed to the hospital."
Watch Video: Terror strikes Brussels, several dead in blasts at airport, Metro
Belgian Prime Minister appealed to people to "avoid any movement". The airport was hurriedly evacuated and both the airport and Metro station were shut down.
A media correspondent said from the scene, "I was at the duty free in Zaventem Airport and I heard two very, very loud explosions. I could feel the building move. There was also dust and smoke as well... It is some kind of terrorist attack although that hasn't been verified by any of the authorities here. We are all being moved out of the airport towards the emergency exit," he said.
A picture taken on March 22, 2016 shows smoke rising from the Maalbeek underground, in Brussels, following a blast at the station close to the capital's European quarter. Photo: AFP
Belga news agency reported that shots were fired and shouts in Arabic were heard before the two blasts, BBC said.
People were seen coming out of the airport building with blood on their faces.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: "News from Brussels is disturbing. The attacks are condemnable. Condolences to the families of the deceased. May those injured recover quickly."
Initial reports said the blasts were centred at the American Airlines check-in desk. The false ceiling in that building came crashing down while all the glass windows, furniture and machinery were shattered.
A later report said one explosion occurred at the departure area, where public access was easy, and another at the runway.
BBC and most media outlets said several people were killed at the airport. Belgian broadcaster RTBF quoted hospital sources to say that 10 people had been killed and 30 injured. Daily Mail of London put the death toll at 13.
Pictures showed the terminal windows blown out from the force of the explosion and plumes of smoke rising high into the sky. Video also showed terrified passengers running for their lives out of the terminal.
Sky News Middle East correspondent Alex Rossi, who was at the airport, told the channel: "I could feel the building move."
Passengers are evacuated from Brussels airport. Pic/AFP
The incident came as the Belgian capital was on a state of high alert following the arrest of Paris terror attack suspect Salah Abdeslam in the city last week.
On Monday, Belgium's Interior Minister Jan Jambon said the country was braced for a possible revenge attack following the capture of the 26-year-old Abdeslam.
CNN quoted a tourist, Anthony Barrett, as saying that he heard the explosions from his hotel across the terminal building. "When I opened the curtains and looked out, I could see people fleeing," he told CNN.
Barrett said he saw 19 or 20 stretchers carrying people. Luggage trolleys were also used to transport the wounded. "It is clearly a very serious incident."
The Brussels airport, which was originally built in 1944 and has three runways, said there were two explosions at the building and everyone was asked to leave.
France is seeking Abdeslam's extradition so he can stand trial for his alleged role in the November 13 rampage of gunfire and suicide bombings which killed 130 people in Paris.
Brussels Airport's official Twitter account has tweeted the following:
Questions about family or friends > Call 02/753.73.00— Brussels Airport (@BrusselsAirport) March 22, 2016
Passengers that are still located in other area's in the airport are asked to remain calm and wait for further information.— Brussels Airport (@BrusselsAirport) March 22, 2016
All airport operations have been suspended until further notice. Follow the information on our website.— Brussels Airport (@BrusselsAirport) March 22, 2016
Don't come to the airport - airport is being evacuated. Avoid the airport area. Flights have been cancelled.— Brussels Airport (@BrusselsAirport) March 22, 2016
There have been 2 explosions at the airport. Building is being evacuated. Don't come to the airport area.— Brussels Airport (@BrusselsAirport) March 22, 2016
All airport operations today have been suspended. Contact your airline for more information about your flight.— Brussels Airport (@BrusselsAirport) March 22, 2016