Brussels in lockdown, planes grounded, military deployed

March 23, 2016 5:00 am

Informations gathered so far

• Twin explosions at Brussels airport, one a suicide bomber
• At least 11 dead and 81 wounded
• Shots and Arabic heard beforehand, witnesses say
• Bombs went off at 8am in departure hall
• More than 200 flights to Brussels diverted or cancelled, according to flight tracking service Flightradar24
• Trains to airport suspended
• Metro train hit at Maelbeek station near European Parliament buildings
• At least 15 dead and 55 wounded says public transport operator STIB
• Metro system shut down
• Attacks come four days after arrest of Paris terror attacks suspect Salah Abdelslam in Brussels
’s security raised to highest level, 4
• No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks
Earlier:
10pm: Police are ordering people off the streets of Brussels.
9.59pm: The Eurostar has been suspended and extra security has been added at Paris airports.
9.57pm: British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter: “I am shocked and concerned by the events in Brussels. We will do everything we can to help.”


9.56pm: The New Zealand Ambassador to the European Union, Sweden and NATO, David Taylor, has just tweeted: “Thanks all accounted for. But situation still unfolding…”
9.54pm: NBC is reporting there have now been four explosions at different metro stations as well as two at the airport.
9.50pm: Sixty New Zealanders are registered on SafeTravel as being in Belgium.
“The New Zealand Embassy in Brussels is currently seeking information on the nationalities of victims and casualties from two explosions at the airport in Brussels, and is liaising with local authorities,” a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said.
There is currently no confirmed information on nationalities of victims, the spokesman said.
• If you have concerns about a New Zealand family member in Belgium, try and make direct contact in the first instance.
• If you have ongoing concerns, contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Tel:Â 04 439 8000 (if calling from within New Zealand) or Tel: +64 4 439 8000 (if calling from outside New Zealand).
9.45pm: Local Belgian media are reporting police have found three unexploded devices in the airport departure hall.


9.42pm: Brussels central is being evacuated and all metro stations are closed.
9.40pm: All rail services shut down in Brussels and explosion at metro station near EU buildings confirmed, according to Sky News.
9.30pm: Smoke can be seen pouring from near the Brussels metro at Maalbeek.


9.28pm: BBC is reporting a third explosion at a metro station in central Brussels close to European Union institutions.


9.20pm: There are unconfirmed reports that there are 11 dead and before the two explosions, there were shots fired and shouts in Arabic.
Images from people at the scene show injured people with torn, bloodied clothes and covered in dust.
People evacuating have been told by officials to “leave their bags” sop police could check for more explosives but some ignored the instructions, the Daily Mail is reporting.
Evacuated passengers are being ferried onto buses and are being driven to a crisis centre away from the airport. Women and children are being moved first.


9.15pm: Belga’s news agency reports shots were fired before the explosions. A man was heard shouting in Arabic before the blasts, the agency said.
The explosions happened just before 8am local time.
Roofing tiles can be seen strewn across the floor of the departure lounge.

Earlier

Two explosions have rocked Brussels airport, injuring several people and forcing authorities to evacuate the terminal and cancel flights.
The Belgian fire service have told local media that there are several dead and wounded at the airport, according to the BBC.
Brussels Airport have tweeted a message, confirming the explosions.
“There have been 2 explosions at the airport. Building is being evacuated. Don’t come to the airport area.”


The airport then tweeted: “Don’t come to the airport – airport is being evacuated. Avoid the airport area. Flights have been cancelled.”
Footage shows people fleeing and screaming shortly after the explosions at the departure terminal at Brussels Zaventem Airport this morning (this evening NZT). Smoke can be seen rising from blown-out windows.
Flights have been cancelled, passengers are being evacuated, and transport links to the airport have been stopped.
Several people were understood to have been injured in the blasts, which happened near the American Airlines check-in area.


Sky News reporter Alex Rossi was at a duty when he heard “two very, very loud explosions”.
“I could feel the building move. There was also dust and smoke as well,” he told Sky News.
“I went towards where the explosion came from and there were people coming out looking very dazed and shocked.
“The thinking here is that it is some kind of terrorist attack – that hasn’t been verified by any of the authorities here at the airport.”


A Sky News reporter at the scene said people were being moved out of the airport through emergency exits by officials.
“There is a great deal of confusion here. There are certainly as you can imagine a number of frightened people … the people I am with here certainly believe that there is a terrorist attack but we can’t confirm it’s an attack.”
He said there were fears there would be further attacks.
Top Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam, ’s most wanted man, was wounded and captured in a raid by armed police in Brussels on Saturday after four months on the run.
Abdeslam was plotting fresh atrocities in Brussels with a new extremist network when he was captured, the Belgian Foreign Minister said on Monday.
“He was ready to restart something in Brussels,” Didier Reynders said. “We found a lot of weapons, heavy weapons, in the first investigations and we have found a new network around him in Brussels.”
Abdeslam, 26, is in a Belgian prison, charged with terrorism offences and murder.
He was thought to have fled to Brussels the day after the gun and bombing rampage on Paris nightspots after refusing to blow himself up.
The arrest came hours after prosecutors revealed that Abdeslam’s fingerprints were found in an apartment in another part of Brussels following a raid earlier this week in which a suspected Isis militant was killed.

Armed police have arrested two men and already have CCTV of one of the Brussels airport bombers including the moment he detonated his suicide belt.
Every space in the city’s airport is covered by four CCTV cameras, including the arrivals hall where scores of people were killed and many more were seriously injured.
Maelbeek station’s surveillance network is also being used to identify the terrorists who detonated explosives there.
The Belgian Foreign Ministry has confirmed they believe some of the terrorists involved are “still at large”.
A US official said security officials believed at least one suitcase bomb was detonated at Brussels Airport.
The official, who wasn’t authorised to speak publicly on the early investigations, confirmed a statement by a Brussels official that there is also concrete evidence of one suicide bombing at the airport as well.
Two suspects have been arrested at gunpoint at Brussels North railway a mile from Maelbeek subway. It is not yet known if they were linked to the bombings.
A third suspect has been arrested on a train near Amsterdam and a suspect package at Gard du Nord in Paris delayed Eurostar services.
Police are already looking at hours of CCTV footage before and after the explosions as they hunt for those behind the attacks.
But security sources said they believed they had video footage of one of the terrorists moments before he detonated one of three bombs.
At least two people in Brussels have been arrested outside the city’s North railway station, about two kilometres from the Maelbeek subway.
There were also reports the Tihange nuclear power plant, around 90km from the capital, is being evacuated of all non-essential staff as Belgium raised security to its maximum level.
Police and special forces are looking for known members of any terror cell who may be planning more attacks.
They will also round up anyone who may pose a threat to the public, or acting suspicously, in an attempt to foil any more attacks.
Intelligence agencies have been on alert for possible attacks since the arrest in Belgium of accused Paris attacks conspirator Salah Abdeslam. It is unclear if the Brussels bombings were already planned and set in motion by his or another existing network, or if they were a direct response to Abdeslam’s arrest.
The explosives used in the Brussels airport attack appeared sophisticated, and investigators will examine them to see if they bear the same characteristics as those used in Paris last year.
Special forces are patrolling the streets of the Belgian capital in case of more bombings or marauding gunmen.
Armed police have been deployed to airports, train stations, ports and border crossings around the world.
From New York to Moscow, security measures were stepped up at transport hubs across the globe with police and military personnel carrying out extra high-visibility patrols and additional checks.
The border between France and Belgium was closed, Eurostar services in and out of Brussels were suspended and airlines to and from other destinations were warning passengers of potential disruption as the effects of this morning’s terror attacks were felt around the world.
Train and bus stations, ports and road checkpoints were also put on high alert, with armed police on the streets in major global cities including London and New York, sniffer dogs deployed and extensive border checks put in place.
Police and soldiers carrying guns were also seen at airports in the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy, while in France – still shaken from the November attacks in Paris – officers remained on high alert.
Troops have also been deployed other key locations across Brussels as Belgium raised its security level to “maximum” in the wake of the attacks.
The entire border between Belgium and France was placed on lock-down, and the Thalys train service – which travels between France, Belgium and the Netherlands – was halted in the wake of the explosions, the operator said.
Tags:
shared on wplocker.com