Wednesday 21 February 2018

'There was a lot of dust... panic set in' - At least 15 dead following bombing at Brussels Metro station Newsdesk Newsdesk

Fifteen people have been killed and 55 injured in a blast on a Brussels metro in Maelbeek, public transport operator STIB said today.

The explosion occurred shortly after 9am local time at a station in the Maelbeek area of the city.

Belgian soldiers patrol in a subway station in Brussels, Belgium, in this November 25, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Files
Belgian soldiers patrol in a subway station in Brussels, Belgium, in this November 25, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Files

The station is located close to the EU institutions. All Metro stations in the city have been closed.

Irish man Ian McCafferty, who was underground at the next Metro station said the crowd heard a 'muffled thud' and panic set in.

"There was a loud muffled thud, it was very audible. There was a lot of dust and smoke raised at the metro station," he told Sky News.

"Soldiers who are always on hand these days were very quick to evacuate the building.

"There was a lot of people crying.

"The initial shock of the explosion would have lifted a lot of dust through the tunnels and once we were evacuated from the building we saw some smoke.

"It's just a story of a sense of confusion. If you looked down the road you could see people being evacuated. At the moment there's still a certain amount of confusion as to what's going on.

"There was a clear sense of panic but there was nobody running at first. ...

Map of Brussels Metro
Map of Brussels Metro

"But the metro station was packed, at rush hour, morning time.," Mr McCafferty continued.

"Whatever this is was obviously planned for this time. There were a lot of people out on the streets. The soldiers were very quick to disperse the crowds.

"We have been asked to stay indoors for now. There's a colleague of mine stuck somewhere else in the area because she can't walk on the street.

"We try and get on with our lives, even after what happened in November, we have a strong security presence here so as much as possible people try to get on with their lives.

"The Metro stations in Brussels are only a short distance away from each other. It was enough to physically see smoke and to know something was wrong but not enough that we didn't know at first that it was an explosion.

"There's lots of construction too so it's hard to discern one thing from another."

The Metro explosion occurred at approximately the same time as two blasts at Brussels airport this morning.

One of those explosions has been confirmed as a suicide bombing.

Brussels Airport has warned people not to visit the scene and have requested all passengers stay away.

"Don't come to the airport - airport is being evacuated. Avoid the airport area. Flights have been cancelled," they tweeted from their official Twitter account.

Shots were fired and Arabic shouted before the blasts, according to Belgian news agency Belga.

"There have been 2 explosions at the airport. Building is being evacuated. Don't come to the airport area."

It is understood the explosions occurred at the entrance to the departures hall, near the American Airlines check-in desk.

The cause of the explosions is yet unclear, according to Belgian media.

Graphic pictures and footage of the explosions have emerged online, with visible smoke rising from the airport entrance.

An evacuation of the airport is currently underway and rail transport to the airport has been suspended.

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