Witnesses describe scenes following bomb blasts in Belgian capital
Dozens of people were killed yesterday when bombs exploded in Belgium’s capital - two at the main international airport and one on a downtown subway train near European Union headquarters.
Witnesses described chaotic scenes of blood, dust and flying glass as the blasts - claimed by ISIS - hit transport hubs in the middle of a busy rush hour.
Entrepreneur Marc Noel, 63, was awaiting a Delta Airlines flight from Brussels to Atlanta when he decided to buy some car magazines for the flight - an act he thinks may have saved his life.
He was in an airport shop when the first explosion struck about 50m away, bringing down a chunk of the ceiling.
“People were crying, shouting, children. It was a horrible experience,” said Noel, a Belgian who lives in North Carolina, US. “I don’t want to think about it, but I would probably have been in that place when the bomb went off.”
He said a second blast hit 10 to 15 seconds later. “This feel likes war - fire engines, police everywhere,” said Noel, as he and hundreds of other passengers were evacuated to the town of Zavantem.
Georgian journalist Ketevan Kardava was lining up for a flight to Geneva just after 8am when, she said, something black and suitcaseshaped exploded in front of the Delta Airlines counter nearby. She said the glass walls shattered and smoke filled the air.
“Everything was broken,” she said. “We were crying, shouting, running we didn’t know where.”
Minutes later, amid the chaos, a second explosion sounded, she said. By then, chaos had enveloped the terminal building and she could see very little.
Security forces herded thousands of people to the back of the airport, where she said they were waiting to learn when it would be safe enough to leave.
Shortly after the airport explosions, another blast hit a subway train at Maelbeek station in central Brussels.
Alexandre Brans, 32, said the train was pulling out of the station “when there was a really loud explosion”.
Outside the station, Brans wiped blood from his face as other people milled around with their clothes badly burned.
“It was panic everywhere,” Brans said. “There were a lot of people in the metro.”
European security officials had been bracing for a major attack for weeks, and warned that ISIS was actively preparing to strike. The arrest on Friday of Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the November attacks in Paris, heightened those fears.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks, saying in a posting on the group's Amaq news agency that its extremists opened fire in the airport and "several of them" detonated suicide belts.
The statement said another suicide attacker struck in the subway.
SOFT TARGETS: The airport is evacuated after the attacks and (below) inside the metro station