• Explosions at Brussels airport and nearby metro station • At least 34 dead and hundreds more wounded • Isis claims responsibility • Brussels in lockdown as police hunt terrorists • Attacks follow arrest of Paris terror suspect Salah Abdelslam
A major manhunt is underway for an Isis suspect in a white coat and black hat who fled Brussels Airport after two explosions ripped through the terminal in a suicide bomb attack.
Police issued a wanted notice for the man who was seen on CCTV pushing a luggage trolley through the check-in area with two other suspects minutes before the blasts.
His alleged accomplices were wearing black gloves on their left hands, which security sources say would have hidden the triggers for their explosive vests.
The two men blew themselves up while the third suspect is believed to have left a nail bomb and fled.
It is not known if the fugitive then sped to Maelbeek station to carry out an attack there just 79 minutes later.
Isis has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which have killed 34 and injured close to 200 others.
Anti-police terror police swooped on a number of suspects in the hours after the attacks as the Belgian Foreign Ministry has confirmed they believe some of the terrorists involved are “still at large”.
At least two people in Brussels were arrested outside the city’s North railway station, a mile from the Maelbeek subway.
A third suspect has been arrested on a train near Amsterdam and a suspect package at Gard du Nord in Paris delayed Eurostar services this afternoon.
Another man was also taken into custody at by armed police at Brussels South railway station near the suburb of Schaerbeek.
A news agency affiliated with Isis put out a statement, saying the terror group had carried out the attacks. AMAQ agency said: “Islamic State fighters carried out a series of bombings with explosive belts and devices on Tuesday, targeting an airport and a central metro station in the centre of the Belgian capital Brussels.”
Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said that wo of the three men in the CCTV photo “very likely committed a suicide attack”.
He said Isis’s claim of responsibility had not yet been formally verified, adding that bit was still “too early to make a direct connection between the attacks in Paris [in November] and today’s attacks”.
There were several raids under way across the country, and he warned media of the risks of reporting details of active operations.
He said that several explosions heard at the airport after the initial two blasts were controlled detonations by security forces. He warned that there may yet be more controlled detonations of suspect packages.
Prime Minister Charles Michel said the country would tighten security at its borders and declared three days of national mourning after what he says were probably the most tragic attacks the country had seen in peacetime.
“It is a common fight, it is a fight without borders,” he said.”We are determined to defend our freedom.”
Belgium raised its terror alert to the highest level, diverting planes and trains and ordering people to stay where they were. Airports across Europe immediately tightened security.
“We are at war,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said after a crisis meeting called by the French president. “We have been subjected for the last few months in Europe to acts of war.”
A private security guard helps a wounded women outside the Maalbeek metro station in Brussels. Photo / Getty
The New Zealand Government is advising against all tourist and non-essential travel to Belgium. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Travel has raised its warning to Kiwis intending to travel to the European country saying there is a high risk to personal security due to the threat of terrorism. It said there were no indications that New Zealanders were caught up in the attacks.
New Zealand’s ambassador to the European Union David Taylor urged Kiwis in Belgium to be vigilant, monitor media for updates and follow instructions from local authorities.
European security officials have been bracing for a major attack for weeks, and warned that the Islamic State group was actively preparing to strike. The arrest of a key suspect in the November attacks in Paris heightened those fears, as investigators said many more people were involved than originally thought, and that some are still on the loose.
Two women injured in the airport attack. Photo / AP
After his arrest last week, Abdeslam told authorities he had created a new network and was planning new attacks.
At Brussels’ Zaventem airport, the two explosions hit the departures area during the busy morning rush. Belgian Health Minister Maggie de Block told Belgian media that 11 people were killed and 81 injured.
Zach Mouzoun, who arrived on a flight from Geneva about 10 minutes before the first blast, told BFM television that the second, louder explosion brought down ceilings and ruptured pipes, mixing water with victims’ blood.
“It was atrocious. The ceilings collapsed,” he said. “There was blood everywhere, injured people, bags everywhere. We were walking in the debris. It was a war scene.”
Anthony Deloos, an airport worker for Swissport, which handles check-in and baggage services, said the first explosion took place near the Swissport counters where customers pay for overweight baggage. He and a colleague said the second blast hit near the Starbucks cafe.
“We heard a big explosion. It’s like when you’re in a party and suddenly your hearing goes out, from like a big noise,” Deloos said, adding that shredded paper floated through the air as a colleague told him to run.
“I jumped into a luggage chute to be safe,” he said.
The bomb that went off an hour later on the subway train killed 20 people and injured more than 100, Brussels Mayor Yvan Majeur said.
“The metro was leaving Maelbeek station for Schuman when there was a really loud explosion,” said Alexandre Brans, 32, wiping blood from his face. “It was panic everywhere. There were a lot of people in the metro.”
Near the entrance to the station, rescue workers set up a makeshift medical treatment center in a pub. Dazed and shocked morning commuters streamed from the metro entrances as police tried to set up a security cordon.
The metro shut down after the attacks, as did the airport. More than 200 flights to Brussels were diverted or canceled, according to flight tracking service Flightradar24.
At least one and possibly two Kalashnikovs were found in the departure lounge at the airport, according to a European security official in contact with Belgian police who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the ongoing investigation.
It was not immediately clear whether the firearms were used in the attacks.
Amateur video showed passengers fleeing as quickly as they could.
In a video shown on France’s i-Tele television, passengers, including a child running with a backpack, dashed out of the terminal in different directions as they tugged luggage. Another image showed a security officer patrolling inside a hall with blown-out paneling and what appeared to be ceiling insulation covering the floor.
Marc Noel, 63, was about to board a Delta flight to Atlanta, to return to his home in Raleigh, North Carolina. A Belgian native, Noel says he was in an airport shop buying automobile magazines when the first explosion occurred 50 yards away.
“People were crying, shouting, children. It was a horrible experience,” he told AP. He said his decision to shop might have saved his life. “I would probably have been in that place when the bomb went off.”