Brussels Attacks

Live updates from Brussels as latest news unfolds

Sorcha Pollak, Aine McMahon Tue, Mar 22
 
LIVE: Brussels Attacks

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  • 08:05

    Sorcha Pollak here with live updates from Brussels following the news that at least two people have been killed and dozens injured following two explosions in Brussels airport.

    If you are in Brussels airport or know someone there please get in touch through Twitter @SorchaPollak or email spollak@irishtimes.com  

  • 08:07

    Here’s what we know so far:

    At least two people have been killed and dozens injured following two explosions in Brussels airport.

    The explosions took place in the departure hall of Brussels airport just before 8am local time.

    Fire engines and emergency services from central Brussels are on their way to the airport in Zaventem, just east of the city. All flights out of the airport have been cancelled, with many inbound flights diverted to Charleroi airport south of the city.


    Roads to the airport have been closed and all trains running to the airport have been cancelled.

  • 08:09
  • 08:11
  • 08:14

    According to reports the incident centred on an American Airlines desk in a departure hall.

    Sky News Middle East correspondent Alex Rossi, who was at the airport en route for Tel Aviv, told the channel: “I could feel the buildings move.” He added that people were "dazed and shocked".  

    “The word is definitely two explosions. The thinking here by everybody is that it is some kind of terrorist attack although that hasn’t been verified by anyone here at the airport. Don’t know how the explosion took place, the method if you like. But it certainly seems Brussels airport has been targeted in a terrorist attack.


    “We are all being moved out of the airport now towards the emergency exit. There is a great deal of confusion here. Certainly there are a number of very upset, as you might imagine, very frightened people. There are fears that there might be other attackers.”

  • 08:18
  • 08:20
    The Belgian government has put the country on the maximum alert level - level 4 - following the explosions at the airport  
  • 08:26
  • 08:28
    BREAKING: There are reports coming in that there has been another explosion at a Brussels metro station in the centre of the city.  
  • 08:29
  • 08:31
    Reports that all metro stations in Brussels have been closed.  
  • 08:32
    The reported explosion took place at Maalbeek metro station close to the European Parliament.  
  • 08:35
    Belgian prime minister Charles Michel says his government are following the situation minute-by-minute. He says the absolute priority is to the victims of the explosions and other people present at the airport.  
  • 08:37
    Reports that 10 people have died at the Brussels airportattack and more than 30 injured. Still no figures available on numbers injured in the explosion at Maalbeek metro station.  
  • 08:40
    Passengers scheduled to travel from Dublin to Brussels today are asked to contact their airline before coming to the airport  
  • 08:41
    Picture taken with permission from the Facebook site of Jef Versele, showing aftermath of the explosions at Brussels Airport.
    Picture taken with permission from the Facebook site of Jef Versele, showing aftermath of the explosions at Brussels Airport.
  • 08:43
    Evan Lamos who was on board a train between the Schuman and Maelbeek stations when the explosion ocurred has been tweeting from the underground tracks.  
  • 08:44

    Evan Lamos describes the moment the explosion went off at Maelbeek station  

  • 08:49

    The latest updates from Irish Times Brussels correspondent Suzanne Lynch:

    Security level has been raised to LEVEL 4, the highest in a four-point scale

    Belgian media reporting that at least 10 dead and 30 injured in Brussels Airport attack

    Belgian media reporting that people injured in Maelbeek station incident

  • 08:51
    Video of the street outside Maelbeek station following the explosion this morning:  
  • 08:55
    Belgian broadcaster VRT is reporting that the explosions at Brussels airport were carried out by a suicide bomber  
  • 08:57
    13 people have reportedly died and 35 are injured following the explosions this morning in Brussels, according to Belgian media  
  • 09:01

    Do you have any Irish family or friends in Brussels?

    If you are worried about an Irish citizen in Brussels you can contact the Department of Foreign Affairs  om +353 1 408 2000


  • 09:02
    The whole of Brussels city is reportedly in lockdown. Metro stations and the airport have been closed and there are reports that all museums have closed until further notice.  
  • 09:03

    An Associated Press reporter saw several people with facial injuries following the explosion in a Brussels metro station near the European Union headquarters.

    At least two people were seen being moved on stretchers. Alexandre Brans (32) who was wiping blood from his face, said: “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.”

  • 09:04
    We're looking to speak with any Irish who witnessed the explosions in Brussels this morning. Please email spollak@irishtimes.com or tweet @sorchapollak  
  • 09:06
  • 09:13
    BREAKING: Reports that 10 people have been killed in the metro blast in central Brussels
  • 09:15
    The vice-president of the European Commission is calling on all staff from EU institutions to please stay home or inside buildings  
  • 09:18
  • 09:19
    Mobile networks appear to be down in Brussels, reports Suzanne Lynch  
  • 09:21
    The Belgian crisis centre Twitter account is calling on people to "stay where you are" and says all public transport in Brussels is closed. People in Belgium should contact 1771 with any questions about the explosions.  
  • 09:26

    The Belgian deputy prime minister has warned that Brussels mobile networks are "saturated" with the levels of calls and texts. He recommends that people "avoid calls" and stay in touch through social media.  

  • 09:30
  • 09:33
    BREAKING: Reports that 10 people were killed in the explosion at Maelbeek metro station.  
  • 09:34


    Jef Versele (40) from Ghent, Belgium, was at Brussels airport this morning when the explosions happened and described the scene as “unbelievable”.
    “I was on my way to check in and two bombs went off — two explosions,” he told the Press Association.
    “I didn’t see anything. Everything was coming down. Glassware. It was chaos, it was unbelievable. It was the worst thing.”
    He added: “People were running away, there were lots of people on the ground. A lot of people are injured.”
    Mr Versele was two or three storeys above the source of the explosion but he said many people around him were hurt.
    “The bomb was coming from downstairs. It was going up through the roof. It was big.
    “About 15 windows were just blown out from the entrance hall,” he added.

  • 09:35
    Eurostar is saying no trains are running to or from Brussels.  
  • 09:38

    Bart van Meele had planned to take a 30th birthday trip to Milan and had passed through security in the terminal when he heard an explosion.

    Speaking to the Press Association from the airport, with sirens wailing in the background, the Apple worker, who was evacuated along with thousands of other people, said: “One of the explosions I heard, and then afterwards people started running. It’s ok, I’m very calm but it’s a bit crazy. You never really think it would happen to you but it’s ok.”


    Mr van Meele, who lives in Belgium but is from the Netherlands, added: “We are all next to the airport, there are a lot of people here. I was inside the terminal, and then people started running very, very fast and then it was quiet for a time and then again they started running and it took a while before we got any information.”

  • 09:40
    Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, is calling on people in Brussels to follow the insturctions of the authorities.  
  • 09:44
    Video footage from the underground tracks in Brussels near where the explosion went off in Maelbeek station  
  • 09:46
    In this image made from video, emergency rescue workers stretcher an unidentified person at the site of an explosion at a metro station in Brussels.
    In this image made from video, emergency rescue workers stretcher an unidentified person at the site of an explosion at a metro station in Brussels.
  • 09:48

    Brussels airport has closed until 6am tomorrow and all incoming and departing flights are cancelled.  

  • 09:54

    What do we know from Brussels so far?

    - At least 23 people are reported to have been killed and many others injured in a series of explosions at Brussels airport and in the city’s subway system.

    - The blasts came just days after the main suspect in last November’s terror attacks in Paris was arrested in the Belgian capital.

    - Two explosions took place in the departure hall of Brussels airport just before 8am local time.

    - Shots were fired and words in Arabic shouted before the explosions, Belgan news agency reported.

    - There are reports of 13 people dead after the Airport explosions.

    - There are conflicting reports as to casualties following the explosion at Maelbeek metro station in the city centre. According to Belgian broadcaster VTM, 10 people may have been killed in the explosion on the metro train. However, the public broadcaster VRT said no one was killed in the metro carriage.

    - The explosion happened as the train arrived at metro station during the morning rush hour, several other Belgian media reported but did not confirm the number of casualties.

     

  • 09:59
  • 10:01
  • 10:15

    Belgium's federal prosecutor has confirmed that the explosions at
    Brussels airport were carried out by a suicide bomber, according to broadcasters VTM and RTBF reported.

  • 10:17
  • 10:18
    <p>Emergency workers and police at Rue de la Loi, after an explosion at Maelbeek Metro station in Brussels.</p>

    Emergency workers and police at Rue de la Loi, after an explosion at Maelbeek Metro station in Brussels.

  • 10:20
    A reminder that the anyone concerned about Irish family and friends in Brussels can contact the Department of Foreign Affairs consular division on +353 1 4180200.  
  • 10:22
    The Department of Foreign Affairs has increased its security setting for Belgium to 'exercise extreme caution' and recommends that any Irish citizens in Brussels closely follow the instructions of the local authorities.  
  • 10:25

    President of the European Council Donald Tusk has released the following statement in the wake of this morning’s attacks:

    "I am appalled by the bombings this morning at Zavantem airport and the European district in Brussels which have cost several innocent lives and injured many others.

    "I extend my sincerest sympathies to the relatives and friends of the victims. These attacks mark another low by the terrorists in the service of hatred and violence.

    "The European institutions are hosted in Brussels thanks to the generosity of Belgium's government and its people. The European Union returns this solidarity now and will fulfill its role to help Brussels, Belgium and Europe as a whole counter the terror threat which we are all facing."

  • 10:28
    Central Brussels has transformed into a ghost town in less than an hour.  
  • 10:35
    A soldier stands near broken windows after explosions at Zaventem airport near Brussels.
    A soldier stands near broken windows after explosions at Zaventem airport near Brussels.
  • 10:39
    Ryanair has posted on its website that customers travelling to/from Brussels Zaventem today should check the website before travelling to the airport. Brussels Airport is currently closed and is expected to remain closed till at least 6am on Wednesday.
  • 10:42

    Aer Lingus is offering free changes/refunds to guests travelling to Brussels today and tomorrow. Customers can avail of free change/refund online or by calling +353 1 8868989

    Aer Lingus has also cancelled the following flights for Tuesday, March 22:

    EI 631 BRU-DUB
    EI 638 DUB-BRU
    EI 639 BRU-DUB

  • 10:46
  • 10:49
    Reports of small blasts heard near the Maelbeek metro station are thought to be controlled explosions.  
  • 10:50
    <p>Members of the German federal police secure the terminal area at the airport in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.</p>

    Members of the German federal police secure the terminal area at the airport in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

  • 10:51

    The Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday advised Dutch citizens not to travel to Belgium following the bomb attacks in Brussels.

    Mr Rutte told a news conference that increased police and miltary checks are taking place at airports and train stations around the country.

    However the threat level of an attack in the Netherlands has not been increased from the current "substantial" level, and the country has no concrete evidence of any immediate threat.

  • 10:55
    Belgian prime minister Charles Michel has confirmed that the attack at Brussels airport was carried out by a suicide bomber.  
  • 10:59
    Belgian transport operator STIB is reporting that at least 15 people were killed in the explosion at the metro station and 55 injured, 10 critically.  
  • 11:05

    Here’s an overview of events over the past four months which have led up to today’s explosions in Brussels. For the full timeline click here.

    November 13th, 2015: A series of explosions rock Paris in the worst terrorist assault on Europe in a decade. A number of restaurants, the Bataclan concert hall and the Stade de France are targeted. 130 people are killed in the attacks and hundreds more injured.

    November 18th, 2015: Belgian extremist Abdelhamid Abaaoud, (27), suspected of masterminding the deadly attacks in Paris, dies along with his female cousin in a police raid in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. A third body is later found and eight people are detained.

    November 21st, 2015: Brussels is placed in lockdown, remaining at maximum alert over information about an ”imminent threat”, possibly a series of co-ordinated attacks at different locations.

    November 22nd, 2015: Some 19 raids are carried out in Molenbeek, home to many of the Paris attackers, and other boroughs of Brussels, and there are three raids in Charleroi. A total of 16 people are arrested.

    November 23rd, 2015: An explosive vest containing bolts and the same type of explosive used in the Paris attacks is found by a street cleaner in a pile of rubble in Chatillon-Montrouge, just south of Paris. A fourth suspect — one of the 16 arrested the previous day — is charged with terrorism offences; the other 15 are released.

    December 10th, 2015: Prosecutors find Paris suspect Salah Abdeslam’s fingerprint during a search of an apartment in Schaerbeek, Brussels. They believe it served as a bomb factory for the Paris attacks. Three handmade belts which could have been intended to transport explosives, as well as bomb-making equipment, traces of TATP explosive residue and a fingerprint from Abdeslam were found there, the federal prosecutor’s office says.

    March 15th, 2016: An Algerian man living illegally in Belgium, Mohamed Belkaid, is killed by police during a raid on an apartment building in the quiet Brussels suburb of Forest, where authorities also find a stock of ammunition and an Islamic State, also known as Isis, flag.

    March 18th, 2016: Salah Abdeslam is wounded in the leg and captured by Belgian police in a raid in the Molenbeek district of Brussels after four months on the run. Two other men are also arrested.

    March 22nd, 2016: Just days after Abdeslam is captured, Brussels is hit by attacks on Zaventem airport and the city’s metro system, near a station close to European Union buildings.

     

     

     

     

  • 11:06

    The Metro operator La Stib has confirmed that 15 people were killed in the Maelbeek metro station blast.

  • 11:11
  • 11:13

    Tara Connolly works for Greenpeace and was attending a conference in the Thon Hotel close to where the metro blast occurred.

    “The first thing we were told was that they were going to use the hotel to treat the injured. We were asked to stay in the conference room and not to leave the hotel,” she says. “They didn’t want more panic on the streets.”

    “For a while the conference continued. It was all a bit surreal. I could see the staff racing about getting the place ready for the wounded. Then after about an hour we were asked to leave.”

    Ms Connolly  has been living in Brussels for four years and was able to walk home from the hotel in 15 minutes. “The streets were almost deserted apart from a large amount of military personnel. There was a real sense of shock.”

    She says that since the Paris attacks, a fear that something would happen in Brussels “is always in the back of your mind. There is always a military presence on the street and the sight of armoured cars is common. But you have to adjust.”

  • 11:14

    Ryanair has released the following statement:

    “Brussels Zaventem Airport is closed until 6am tomorrow and as a result, all of our remaining Brussels Zaventem flights have been cancelled. Flights to/from Brussels Charleroi are running, although with some delays at the airport. Customers due to travel to/from Brussels Zaventem today should check the Ryanair.com website for the latest information. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims.”

     

  • 11:18

    The Dáil has observed a minute’s silence for the victims of the Donegal drowning tragedy and the Brussels bombings, reports Michael O’Regan

    Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny expressed his “sincere and deepest’’ sympathy with the relatives of those who lost their lives in Donegal. “Our hearts go out to them,’’ he said.

    Mr Kenny said he understood no Irish citizen was among the dead and injured in what appeared to be terrorist activities in Brussels.

    Acting Tanaiste Joan Burton said the atrocities in Brussels showed there were efforts to destroy freedom.

    Green Party TD Eamon Ryan said lives had been torn apart in Brussels and the bombings represented an attack on European values.

  • 11:19
  • 11:27

    An Irish witnesses describes the "mass confusion" at the metro station

    Ian McCafferty was getting off the metro at Arts-Loi, the stop just before Maelbeek, at around 8.20am when he heard what he describes as a “loud muffled thud”.

    He says there is “so much construction going on here that at first I didn’t really think much of it”.

    He kept walking, heading out of the station on the way to his office near the European Commission. He looks after some of the Commission’s social media content.

    “I was actually on the phone to my mother,” he says. “She had called to make sure I was okay after she had heard about the airport blasts. She is very vigilant when it comes to these things.”

    As he approached the station exit he noticed people around him “picking up the pace” and when the commuters got to the top of the metro station stairs “there was a large military presence and mass confusion. People started to run. Some people were crying. The two stations are only a stone’s throw apart.”

    He calmly ended his call with his mother, without letting her know how close he had come to be caught up in the explosion. “We were the last train through the station before the blast,” he says .

    McCafferty  plans to stay in his office this morning. “I can walk back to the city centre later on. It is the same distance from Mountjoy Square to College Green.

    “I won’t go now as I don’t want to make more work for the security forces. I will just get on with my job.”

  • 11:29
    A boy holds up a placard reading 'Sorry for Brussels' as refugees and migrants take part in a protest against the closure of the border at the Greek-Macedonian border today.
    A boy holds up a placard reading "Sorry for Brussels" as refugees and migrants take part in a protest against the closure of the border at the Greek-Macedonian border today.
  • 11:35

    What has happened in Brussels so far today?

    - At least 28 people are reported to have been killed after explosions at the airport and subway system in Brussels.

    - Two explosions took place in the departure hall of Brussels airport just before 8am local time. There are reports of 13 people dead after the Airport explosions.

    - 15 people are reported to have been killed in the explosion at the Maelbeek metro train. At least 55 are reported injured, 10 critically.

    - Today’s blasts just days after the main suspect in last November’s terror attacks in Paris, was arrested in the Belgian capital.

    - All public transport in Brussels has been closed down.

    - The EU Commission has ordered staff to either stay indoors or at home.

    - All flights have been cancelled, arriving planes have been diverted and Belgium’s terror alert level has been raised to maximum. Security has also tightened at French airports, as well as in Britain and the Netherlands.

    - French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, quoted by broadcaster France Info, said: “We face a particularly elevated threat. We are at war. In Europe we have been subjected to acts of war for several months.”

  • 11:38
    The mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo has said that the Eiffel Tower will be lit up in the colours of the Belgian flag tonight and tweeted the hashtag #weareunited  
  • 11:39
  • 11:46
  • 11:50

    France has stopped 10,000 people from entering the country since last November's attacks in Paris, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said as he announced extra security measures in the wake of deadly blasts in Brussels on Tuesday.

    France's borders are officially open under the Schengen agreement that waives controls between some European countries, but it has put checks in place since the November 13 attacks, reports Reuters.  

    Those who struck in Paris are believed to have planned their assault in Brussels. The prime surviving suspect from the assault in the French capital was arrested there last week.

    France has been on its highest alert status since November 13 amid worries about another attack on its soil. After the arrest of Paris attack suspect Salah Abdeslam last week, police have been on alert for any reprisal action in both capitals, which lie about 315 km apart.

  • 11:52

    Acting Tasoieach  Enda Kenny said no Irish people are believed at this stage to have been caught up in the atrocity.

    “I understand from our ambassador in Brussels that, as far as we aware, no Irish citizen has been involved here with the tragic circumstances,” he said. “But we can’t be certain yet as to the full impact of what has happened.”

  • 11:54
    Passengers walk on underground metro tracks to be evacuated after an explosion at Maelbeek train station (photograph courtesy of @OSOSXE via twitter).
    Passengers walk on underground metro tracks to be evacuated after an explosion at Maelbeek train station (photograph courtesy of @OSOSXE via twitter).
  • 11:56

    Reports that an Indian crew member of Jet Airways is among the injured:

  • 11:58
    A spokesman for the department for foreign affairs has said there are an estimated 10,000 - 15,000 Irish citizens living in Belgium but was unable to confirm how many of these live in Brussels. No Irish people are believed to have been caught up in the attacks, according to the Irish ambassador in Brussels.  
  • 12:00
    A kalashnikov rifle has been discovered in the departure hall of Zaventem airport, according to the Belgian news channel RTBF  
  • 12:01
  • 12:03

    Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness described this morning's attaacks in Brussels as "deplorable" and said he condemned them "unreservedly".  

    “My thoughts, as with everyone in Ireland at this time, will be with those killed or injured.

    “I have been in contact with Sinn Féin representatives and staff travelling to and in Brussels this morning to express my concern and I now want to extend solidarity and support to the people of Brussels at this awful time.”

  • 12:05

    London Mayor Boris Johnson has said “there may be one UK casualty” in the Brussels explosions.

  • 12:06
    Rescue workers treat victims outside the Maelbeek metro station (image via Reuters Tv)
    Rescue workers treat victims outside the Maelbeek metro station (image via Reuters Tv)
  • 12:09
  • 12:23

    Police in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland have stepped up security at airports and public places following today’s explosions in Brussels.

    Danish police said on their Twitter page they had increased patrols at Copenhagen airport and other key points in the city following the deadly explosions at Brussels airport and a metro station in the city.

    In Norway, police officers in Oslo will carry weapons again for a temporary period, a police spokeswoman said. Officers were armed between November 2014 and February of this year due to a risk of attacks by Islamist militants. More police would also patrol the streets of the capital.

    Police in Sweden said they had reinforced their presence at airports and taken increased security measures at other public places.

    Finnish Interior Minister Petteri Orpo said on Twitter "Finnish security officials have increased monitoring at Helsinki-Vantaa airport".

  • 12:29
    BREAKING: Belgian public broadcaster VRT has raised the death toll from Tuesday's attacks in Brussels to 34, with 20 people killed in the blast on a metro train and 14 in explosions at the airport.  
  • 12:37

    American Airlines has released a statement extending its sympathies to those affected by the explosions in Brussels and confirming that all of the airline’s airport employees are safe and accounted for.


    It said the explosions did not occur near the American Airlines check-in desk in Brussels airport as some early reports suggested.


    American Airlines check-in operates at Row 8 of the departure hall, and the explosions did not occur at Row 8, said the statement.

    The airline has issued a travel policy for customers with reservations to Brussels who wish to change their itineraries.

  • 12:44
  • 12:49

    Video taken moments after the explosion at Maelbeek station and before passengers were evacuated from the metro.  

  • 13:02

    Belgian police have found a Kalashnikov assault rifle next to dead attacker at Brussels airport, the Belgian public broadcaster VRT has said.

    The death toll in the twin attacks on the Belgian capital's main airport and a metro station has risen to 34 with more than 130 wounded.

  • 13:06
  • 13:14

    Twitter users have turned to depictions of Belgian fictional reporter and adventurer Tintin to pay tribute to those affected by the attacks in Brussels.  

    While some French artists have shown their solidarity with their Belgian neighbours through artwork.
  • 13:16

    The Irish National Security Committee has been convened to discuss the attacks in Brussels, reports Irish Times reporter Sarah Bardon.  

    The Garda Commissioner, senior officials from the Department of Justice, Taoiseach and Foreign Affairs are meeting in light of the deaths.

    The Secretary General of the Department of Taoiseach Martin Fraser will brief the Taoiseach and Ministers about the discussion later today.

  • 13:18

    Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has released the following statement in the wake of the Brussels attacks:

    "Today's events in Brussels are another dreadful reminder of the savagery of terrorists who hold our values and democracy itself in deadly contempt.

    Our sympathies go to all those who have been affected by these attacks.

    An Garda Síochána are liaising with the relevant authorities in Brussels and other international partners in the light of these attacks.

    While it remains the case that there is no specific information about a threat to this country, as a country with the same values as our European partners, we are not immune. That threat level is, of course, kept under review and will continue to be particularly in the light of today's terrible events.

    And we have to bear in mind too that an attack on our European neighbours is an attack on us all. The Government is determined that all necessary steps will continue to be taken to counteract this threat and will play its full part in doing so with its international partners.

    We know from the dark history of this island that, while, despite the best efforts of police and security services, terrorists can succeed from time to time in carrying out attacks, ultimately democracy and our values will prevail."

     

  • 13:21
    The Tihange nuclear power plant close to the city of Liege has been evacuated, according to the VTM news agency. The closure is part of standard procedure following the decision to raise the country's threat level to the maxium number 4.  
  • 13:23

    Niall Doheny was in Brussels Airport dropping his two children to their grandparents when the explosions happened.  

    This morning I landed in Brussels with my two kids, Jack (3) and Oscar (13 months), on Etihad flight EY57 from Abu Dhabi, where I work in the aviation industry. I flew to Brussels to drop off my kids with my parents-in-law for the Easter break. I was due to fly straight back to Abu Dhabi a few hours later, on the return EY58 flight.

    I was met at Brussels Airport Arrivals Hall by my parents-in-law, and instead of going upstairs to Departures to check-in for the return trip, because I had plenty of time, I went to the airport car park to help put the kids’ luggage in the boot, and chat along the way with my in-laws.

    As I was walking back towards the Departures Hall, I heard two loud bangs, about five seconds apart. I was about 100m away, but one level down. I saw two people running towards me, saying bombs had gone off. I could see other people running through the gaps in the car park wall. I ran back to the car, and we all left immediately.

    I sensed an attack, and was worried that people like ourselves trying to escape the car park would be targets. But we left without any issues.
    Now I am about 8km from Brussels Airport at my wife’s family’s apartment. Brussels is now on lock-down as reports of other explosions are coming in from elsewhere in the city. There is no public transport. Trains, metros and buses are all cancelled.

    It was scary, but we remained calm. I will stay here until the authorities declare it is safe to continue my travel plans. My thoughts are with all those directly affected by these terrible events.

  • 13:26
  • 13:38
    <p>Injured women after the explosions at Zaventem airport.</p>

    Injured women after the explosions at Zaventem airport.

  • 13:48

    What do we know so far from Brussels?

    - At least 34 people are reported to have been killed after explosions at airport and subway system in Brussels.

    - At least 130 were severely injured in the explosions

    - Two explosions took place in the departure hall of Brussels airport just before 8am.

    - There are reports of 14 people dead at the Airport.

    - 20 people may have been killed in the explosion on the metro train.

    - European security officials have been bracing for a major attack for weeks, and warned that the Islamic State group was actively preparing to strike.

    - There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Tuesday’s attacks

    - The Department of Foreign Affairs estimates that there are between 10,000-15,000 Irish citizens living in Belgium including an estimated 700 Irish people working in the EU institutions in Brussels.

    - No Irish citizens have been injured or killed in the Brussels explosions “as far as we aware”, Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.  

  • 13:56

    Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has said the Government’s immediate concern is for the welfare of Irish citizens in Brussels.

    He said there were no reports of any Irish citizens having been injured but added that the situation was “very fluid” and that information was still emerging.

    “The Irish Embassy in Brussels is actively liaising with the Belgian authorities as they work to identify those who were affected by these attacks,” said Mr Flanagan.

    “The Irish Ambassador to Belgium, Mr Eamonn Mac Aodha, is monitoring the situation on the ground and is in touch with the relevant authorities, including the Belgian National Emergency Centre, and is providing me with regular updates on the situation.

    “Ambassador Mac Aodha has informed me that the large number of Irish staff working at the Permanent Representation, the Embassy and the various State agencies, and their loved ones, are all accounted for.

    “Our travel advice for Belgium has been updated and recommends that citizens exercise extreme caution if in Belgium, and that they closely follow the instructions of local authorities.

    Anyone concerned for the welfare of an Irish citizen in Brussels can contact my Department at +353 1 418 0200, where a dedicated team of staff is available to take calls.“

  • 14:01
    The Belgian Taxi Drivers Union has called on members to offer their services to their fellow citizens and help evacuate people safely.  
  • 14:03
  • 14:08
  • 14:18

    Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs broke down earlier today as she described the Belgium terror attacks as a “sad day for Europe”.

    Ms Mogherini appeared visibly upset as she delivered a press statement in Jordan, where she had been working on counter-terrorism policy. She wept as she finished her statement and embraced Jordanian politician Nasser Judeh, who was sharing the platform, before rushing off stage.

    Ms Mogherini, who is also vice president of the European Commission, drew comparisons with the Middle East as she described it as a “very sad day for Europe”.

    “Europe and its capital are suffering the same pain that this region has known and knows every single day,” she said.

    Mr Judeh, Jordan’s foreign minister, thanked Ms Mogherini for her “strong message of support to Jordan” and said “we will stand with you today and with our friends in Europe and with all peace-loving nations”.

    But he was interrupted as Ms Mogherini excused herself, visibly moved by his words. She hugged the Jordanian politician before leaving the stage.

  • 14:19
    New York City police officers patrol the Times Square/42nd Street station of the New York City transit system in New York today. Security in many parts of the world are on heightened alert.
    New York City police officers patrol the Times Square/42nd Street station of the New York City transit system in New York today. Security in many parts of the world are on heightened alert.
  • 14:23

    Flemish language broadcaster VTM is reporting that at least one of the bombs at Brussels airport this morning had nails in it. The broadcaster interviewed Marc Decramer from the Gasthuisberg hospital in Leuven who said the wounded had fractures and deep cuts caused by flying glass and nails.


    The hospital in Leuven is treating 11 people with serious injuries, three of whom are in a critical condition, according to AP.  

  • 14:27
    A sign reads 'Defy terror, protect freedom' outside the Belgium embassy in Berlin.
    A sign reads "Defy terror, protect freedom" outside the Belgium embassy in Berlin.
  • 14:34

    Starbucks has released a statement saying that one of the explosions in Brussels airport occurred outside one of the coffee chain’s stores.

    It reported that one Starbucks employee had been injured in the explosion.

    "We are deeply saddened by the senseless acts that have taken place in Brussels today.

    Amidst reports of attacks targeting Brussels Airport and at a metro station, initial indications are that an explosion took place outside of a store within the airport. While one partner (employee) was injured we can confirm that all our partners have been accounted for and are safe. This store and all other Starbucks stores in Brussels will remain closed until further notice.

    We are monitoring this situation closely, and will provide additional information as it becomes available."

  • 14:38

    Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz has responded to the Brussels attacks on his Facebook page. He wrote:

    "Our hearts break for the men and women of Brussels this morning. Make no mistake -- these terror attacks are no isolated incidents. They are just the latest in a string of coordinated attacks by radical Islamic terrorists perpetrated by those who are waging war against all who do not accept their extreme strain of Islam.

    Radical Islam is at war with us. For over seven years we have had a president who refuses to acknowledge this reality. And the truth is, we can never hope to defeat this evil so long as we refuse to even name it. That ends on January 20, 2017, when I am sworn in as president. We will name our enemy -- radical Islamic terrorism. And we will defeat it."

  • 14:42
    Activists of Pakistani civil society chant slogans during a rally to condemn the Brussels attack, in Multan, Pakistan. The placard on the left reads 'we want peace in the world'.
    Activists of Pakistani civil society chant slogans during a rally to condemn the Brussels attack, in Multan, Pakistan. The placard on the left reads "we want peace in the world".
  • 14:43
    The Belgian minister for transport Jacqueline Galant has tweeted that the north, central and midi train stations in Brussels will re-open at 4pm.  
  • 14:48

    Lord mayor of Dublin Críona Ní Dhálaigh has expressed her shock and sadness following the attacks in Brussels this morning.

    “On behalf of the people of Dublin, I wish to extend my deepest condolences to King Philippe of Belgium, the Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel, the Belgian Ambassador to Ireland, Philippe Roland, to the Belgian Authorities and the people of Brussels,” said Ms Ní Dhálaigh.

    “Our thoughts today are with all those who have been affected by these senseless acts of violence.”

  • 14:49
  • 14:53

    US president Barack Obama has said the terror attacks in Brussels are a reminder of the need to unite “in fighting against the scourge of terrorism”.

    Mr Obama, speaking while on a historic visit to Cuba, sent a message of support to America’s “friend and ally” Belgium.

    He said: “The thoughts and the prayers of the American people are with the people of Belgium, and we stand in solidarity with them in condemning these outrageous attacks against innocent people.

    “We will do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally Belgium in bringing to justice those who are responsible.

    “And this is yet another reminder that the world must unite, we must be together regardless of nationality or race or faith, in fighting against the scourge of terrorism.

    “We can and we will defeat those who threaten the safety and security of people all around the world.”

  • 15:00
  • 15:07
  • 15:09
    I'm signing off the blog for the day but Aine McMahon will be taking over with all the latest updates from Brussels - @AineMcMahon  
  • 15:19
  • 15:25

  • 15:26
    The so-called Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks in a statement issued via its A'maq news agency.
  • 15:30

  • 15:33


  • 15:39
  • 15:45

    Belgian police are appealing for help in identifying a potential suspect, who could have information about the attack on Zaventem airport this morning.

    The unknown man, seen below dressed in white, is thought to be linked to this morning’s bombing which left at least 14 people dead.

    The identity of the two other men is unknown.

    The photograph was circulating on social media earlier this afternoon before Belgium’s federal prosecutor confirmed that the man in white was the subject of police inquiries, the Guardian repports.



  • 15:47
  • 15:48

    European Union leaders said the attacks in Brussels on Tuesday that killed at least 30 people only strengthened their resolve to defend European values and tolerance. In a joint statement, the 28 heads of state and government and the leaders of the EU institutions said: "We will be united and firm in the fight against hatred, violent extremism and terrorism.(Reuters)  

  • 15:55

    Belgium’s Royal Palace has said King Philippe will address the nation in a live broadcast on all television channels at 7pm or 6pm Irish time.



  • 15:59


  • 16:00
  • 16:02

    The President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker has released a statement following the attacks in Brussels.

    "I would like to express my deepest sympathy to the people of Brussels, to the many wounded, to the families and loved ones of those cruelly hit by the explosions this morning at Zaventem airport and Maelbeek Metro Station. I would also like to express my full support for and solidarity with the Belgian authorities.
    I commend the security forces, emergency services and all those who have helped victims and are still doing so now.
    I would like to reassure the employees of the Commission and the European Institutions that their security remains a priority for me and that all possible measures will be taken in full cooperation with the Belgian authorities.
    These attacks have hit Brussels today, Paris yesterday – but it is Europe as a whole that has been targeted. The European Union and its Institutions stand united in the face of terrorism.
    These events have affected us, but they have not made us afraid. We will continue our work, to face the terrorist threat together, and to bring European solutions to questions that concern us all."

  • 16:08
  • 16:08

    Brussels Airport chief executive Arnaud Feist has confirmed there will be no more flights today.

    "On behalf of the entire airport community, I would like to extend our warmest condolences to the family and friends of the victims of these cowardly and heinous acts. I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the emergency and rescue services, passengers and staff for their compassion, solidarity and help. This is without doubt the blackest day in the history of Brussels Airport.


  • 16:18
  • 16:19
  • 16:25

    The attacks in Brussels forced Zaventem International Airport to shut down with hundreds of flights into and out of the Belgium capital either cancelled or diverted on Tuesday.


    The serious disruption will spill in to a second day after the airport confirmed it will be midday on Wednesday at the earliest before it is re-opened, Conor Pope reports.  

    Ryanair canceled all flights to Zaventem but those to and from Brussels’ Charleroi Airport were running, though with some delays.


    The airline said all flights scheduled to operate to and from Brussels Zaventem on Wednesday will now operate to/from Brussels Charleroi and it advised customers who had booked to fly from Brussels Zaventem to allow extra time for their journeys. Aer Lingus cancelled two flights into Brussels on Tuesday and said flights EI 630 and and EI 631 from Brussels to Dublin on Wednesday 23 March had also been cancelled.


    Brussels Airport set up an emergency contact number +322 7537300 for those wishing to check on individuals who were at the
    airport.

  • 16:32
  • 16:34
  • 16:36
    Security services found and destroyed a third bomb at Zaventem Airport in Brussels. (Press Association)  
  • 16:41

    Chancellor Angela Merkel has told a press conference that Germany would work with Belgium to find and punish the perpetrators of bombing attacks in Brussels.


    She added that the German cabinet would convene on Wednesday to discuss the implications for Germany of the attacks on Brussels airport and a metro train in the Belgian capital that killed at least 30 people. "We will work in every way with ... the Belgian security services to find, identify and punish the perpetrators of today's crimes," Merkel said.

  • 16:48
  • 16:54
  • 16:56




  • 16:57
  • 17:06

    In the US, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago have stepped up their security and major airlines scrambled resources to cope with closings at the airport in Belgium's capital.


    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said that although there was no specific threat against the city, he had beefed up police presence and deployed a 500-officer special anti-terrorism unit.


    He urged New Yorkers to go about their business as normal. "What the terrorists want is for us to change our ways," he told a news conference. "We refuse to change who we are. We are going to respond to their efforts to create chaos by showing them order, by showing them our society functioning, our city functioning." (Reuters)  

  • 17:17


  • 17:18
  • 17:25

    Police issued a wanted notice for a man suspected of involvement in Tuesday's bomb attacks at Brussels airport that left at least 10 people dead.



    Calling for information, they issued a photograph of a man, dressed in a white shirt and jacket and wearing a dark hat, as he pushed a luggage trolley through the airport.



    In joint attacks on Tuesday, a second blast on a rush-hour train also killed a further 20 people.


    Broadcasters RTL and RTBF reported anti-terrorist police were carrying out searches in the Brussels district of Schaerbeek and Jette.



    Belgian media earlier carried pictures from airport security cameras showing two people in black and a third person wearing a hat and following just behind. (Reuters)

  • 17:33


  • 17:39


    Broadcasters RTL and RTBF reported anti-terrorist police were carrying out searches in the Brussels district of
    Schaerbeek and Jette.


  • 17:50
    Belgian Prosecutor Eric van der Sypt said two bombers died at Brussels airport and a third is being “actively” sought.
  • 17:53

    A book of condolences will be opened at the Embassy of Belgium in Dublin.

    Members of the public will be able to sign the book in Ballsbridge on Wednesday and Thursday between 12pm and 3pm.

    The embassy is located at 1 Eglin Road, Dublin 4.

  • 17:55
    Irish flags will fly at half mast on all state buildings on Wednsday and Thursday in honour of those who died in the Brussels attacks.
  • 17:56
  • 17:58

    Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Belgium, told a press conference the atrocities had killed people whose lives “were in full course”. He said: “The lives of people who were most likely travelling without a care in the world, going to work or to school, lives that have been broken by extremism.” He said officials have visited the airport and Metro station where the two explosions went off, killing dozens. He added: “We are very shocked by the information and the witness statements that we have seen as well as the many images that we were able to see. These images will remain engraved in our memories.” He went on: “Finally I would like to very strongly say to those who have chosen to act as a barbaric enemy against freedom, democracy and fundamental values, I would like to tell them that we will remain united and we will remain together. “We will remain fully mobilised. Today we feel a great pain in our hearts and this will bring us full determination to act in order to protect our freedoms, in order to protect our way of life.”


  • 18:07

    Police raids are happening around Belgium after two men “probably” staged suicide bombings at Brussels airport and a third fled, a Belgian prosecutor said.


    Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said that the third suspect is actively being sought by police.


    At least 31 people were killed and nearly 190 wounded in the two airport bombings and another in the Brussels subway system.


    Prime Minister Charles Michel said the country will tighten security at its borders. He declared three days of national mourning after what he says were probably the most tragic attacks the country has seen in peacetime. (PA)  

  • 18:09


  • 18:14


    Speaking at a press conference, Federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said although Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack through its media wing, it was still “too early to make a direct connection between the attacks in Paris [in November] and today’s attacks." Isis’s claim of responsibility has not yet been formally verified, he said.

    He said there are several raids under way across the country, but Van Leeuw warned of the risks of reporting details of active operations.

  • 18:17


    Flemish broadcaster VTM reports that Belgian Police have re-established a security cordon at Zaventem airport after discovering a suspicious package.

    The cordon had been reduced earlier this afternoon after police completed their initial security sweep of the airport, but the discovery of this package will send the process back to square one, VTM reports.



  • 18:21


    It is “almost impossible” to prevent a Brussels Metro-style attack from taking place on the London Underground, a security expert has claimed.


    The number of passengers using the Tube and the “ever-thinning” resources of the British Transport Police mean “you couldn’t protect the whole network”, according to Will Geddes, managing director of private security firm International Corporate Protection. (PA)  

  • 18:28
  • 18:28
  • 18:32
    Searches in Schaerbeek area of Brussels led to discovery of an explosive device containing nails, chemical products and an Islamic State flag, Federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said at a press conference.
  • 18:43
  • 18:51
  • 18:53


  • 19:03

     In a televised address, King Philippe of Belgium said he and Queen Mathilde “share the pain” of all those who had suffered in the attacks. But he called on Belgians to stay “confident” in the face of terror. He said: “Today our country is in mourning. For each of us this March 22 will never be a day like any other. “In the face of threats, we will continue to respond together, firmly, with calm and dignity.”

  • 19:07
    The Department of Foreign Affairs is advising people to delay non-essential travel to Brussels until the situation has stabilised and is advising Irish citizens to exercise extreme caution if in Belgium. They have also updated their travel advice for France, Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
  • 19:14
    <table border='0'>
<tbody>
<tr>
<td class='borderb' width='50%' align='left'>A girl holds a rose as people light candles in tribute to victims at a makeshift memorial in front of the stock exchange at the Place de la Bourse (Beursplein) in Brussels on March 22, 2016, following triple bomb attacks in the Belgian capital that killed about 35 people and left more than 200 people wounded. (AFP)  </td>
</tr>
</tbody>
</table>
    A girl holds a rose as people light candles in tribute to victims at a makeshift memorial in front of the stock exchange at the Place de la Bourse (Beursplein) in Brussels on March 22, 2016, following triple bomb attacks in the Belgian capital that killed about 35 people and left more than 200 people wounded. (AFP)  
  • 19:17

    Senator Ted Cruz of Texas angered American Muslims on Tuesday with a call to "patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods" in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Brussels.




    Arguing that politicians had "tried to deny this enemy exists out of a combination of political correctness and fear," Cruz said that Europeans were "seeing what comes of a toxic mix of migrants who have been infiltrated by terrorists and isolated, radical Muslim neighborhoods." He continued, in a statement released by both his campaign and his Senate office, "We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized."


     


     


     


     

  • 19:19
  • 19:23
    Belgian prime minister Charles Michel joined crowds tonight to light a candle in memory of the Brussels attack victims. He turned up at Place de la Bourse in the heart of the city where dozens of locals came to remember those killed. Messages of condolence, outrage and love by people from around the world were written in chalk on the pavement where the lit candles were placed. Some among the crowd broke out into an impromptu rendition of Imagine by The Beatles. Others stood in sombre silence as teams of armed police officers stood by in the wake of Tuesday’s terrorist atrocity.
  • 19:34


  • 19:37

    There are no reports of any Irish citizens being involved in Brussels attack.  


     



  • 19:42

    U.S Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said on Tuesday that the United States has no intelligence that indicates there is a plot to carry out an attack inside U.S borders similar to the one in
    Brussels "


    At present, we have no specific, credible threat of any plot to conduct similar attacks here in the United States," Johnson said in a statement.


    Johnson added that the Transportation Security Administration is ramping up security in major city airports and rail and transit stations throughout the United States. (Reuters)

     

  • 19:45

     

    An international manhunt has been launched for one of the terrorist suspects behind co-ordinated bombings in Brussels which left 34 dead and almost 200 injured.


    A series of police raids were mounted across Belgium, leading to the discovery of an explosive device containing nails, chemical products and an Islamic State (IS) flag, almost 12 hours after the first explosion, at around 7am. The terror group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. (PA)  

  • 19:47

    The military hospital in Neder-over-Heembeek in Brussels has been treating victims of Tuesday’s attacks. A photo has been released of an x-ray of a person’s chest, which shows a big nail or screw.

    The Belgian federal prosecutor’s office said that a bomb with nails in was discovered during the raids on Schaerbeek.