BELGRADE – Two blasts rocked the departure hall of Brussels’ Zaventem Airport at about 8am local time, reportedly killing 17 people and leaving dozens injured. Authorities report that more undetonated homemade bombs have been discovered within the terminal.
Brussels police have told Sputnik that Zaventem’s great hall was targeted in the blast, but they couldn’t confirm the number of the victims in the attack.
“There was an explosion, but we cannot say more,” a police spokesperson said.
A suicide bomber was responsible for one of the blasts, Belgian broadcaster VRT said. Three suicide belts packed with explosives have been found at the Brussels airport by police, local TV reported.
Reports also suggest that first there was a shot fired in the departure hall, then something was called out in Arabic, and only afterward, two explosions rocked the facility.
Reports suggest that one of the explosions took place near the American Airlines check-in desk. A government source confirmed to VRT broadcaster that it was an attack, while Anke Fransen, spokeswoman for Brussels Airport, said there were multiple injuries. “We can confirm that there have been two explosions in the departure hall. We called the emergency services on the ground – they [are] now provid[ing] first aid to the injured.”
Niels Caignau, flight watcher at Swissport, told Radio 1 that he heard an explosion at around 8:00 a.m. local time.
“The windows outside the departure hall are completely shattered. Many people have run out with tears in [their] eyes. We were advised to stay indoors.”
Other explosive devices have been discovered at the airport, RTBF correspondent Laurent Henrard cited firefighters as saying.
A blast at the Maalbeek metro station in Brussels has killed at least 10 people according to local police, as cited by TASS. The explosion took place less than an hour after a deadly airport bombing.
Large amounts of smoke have been seen coming out of the metro station in the Belgian capital. Brussels’ transport authority says all metro stations in the city have been closed, Reuters reports.
An AP reporter said he say a number of people with facial injuries following the explosion at the Maalbeek metro station. Alexandre Brans, who was wiping blood from his face, said that he saw at least two people being carried away on stretchers.
“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,” he said.
Minutes after the blast at Maalbeek, a second explosion is reported to have taken place at the near-by Schuman metro station. Images on social media have shown passengers being evacuated from inside the metro and walking along the train tracks. The Maalbeek station is also near a number of important EU buildings such as Berlaymont building, which houses the EU Commission and the Council of the European Union.
Belgian authorities have raised the security alert to the highest level following blasts at the Zaventem Airport and Maalbeek Metro station.
Public buildings are closing in Brussels, with people being evacuated from museums en masse. The Belgian prime minister has requested that the local population and tourists stay where they are. Crisis Center Belgium has urged people to communicate via text or social media, as the telephone network is overloaded.