Blasts rip through Brussels airport at height of rush hour


Brussels terror attacks

Brussels terror attacks

Two explosions have ripped through Brussels airport during the rush hour causing several casualties.

The suspected terror attack came as the Belgian capital was on a state of high alert following the arrest of Paris atrocity suspect Salah Abdeslam in the city last week.

Images on social media showed shattered windows and smoke rising from an airport building.

Video footage shot from an airport car park showed people fleeing in terror.

According to local media, there were several dead and injured.

Footage from inside the building showed a scene of devastation with ceiling tiles strewn across the floor and suitcases abandoned.

Airport spokeswoman Anke Fransen said: "There were two blasts in the departure hall. The first aid team are in place for help."

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Passengers were led onto the tarmac and travellers were urged to stay away from the airport.

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."

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

Mr Rossi told Sky News 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.

"No word too of casualties. 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."

He added: "There are fears that there might be other attackers."

Mr Rossi, who had checked his luggage through the main baggage area and was at a departure gate, said he thought he was "fairly close" to the explosions but he could not be sure.

He told Sky News as he was being ushered out of the airport along with other passengers: "We felt the walls of the building rock. Dust came down from the ceiling.

"I think it was a very big explosion - hardly surprising the windows are blown out.

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"I would expect if there were people around when those explosions happened - we heard two explosions - there will be a number of casualties."

Abdeslam, suspected as a planner in the attacks that killed 130 people in Paris, was arrested on Friday after a four-month manhunt, in the same neighbourhood in Brussels where he grew up.

But the Belgian authorities fear he had accomplices while on the run who are still at large and could pose a threat.

Belgian prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw told reporters at a news conference in Brussels on Monday: "(It's clear) we have a general threat."

Abdeslam, 26, a French citizen who grew up in Brussels' Molenbeek neighbourhood, slipped through police fingers on several occasions, including the day after the attacks.

He was interviewed three times on Saturday, the day after his capture - once by prosecutors and twice by an investigating judge - and "wasn't in great shape" because he had been shot in the leg by police during his capture, Mr Van Leeuw said.

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Belgian prosecutors appealed to the public on Monday for information about a man who allegedly travelled to Hungary last year with Abdeslam.

Najim Laachraoui, 24, is said to have travelled to Syria in February 2013. He was checked by guards at the Austria-Hungary border while driving in a Mercedes with Abdeslam and one other person.

Laachraoui is said to have rented a house under the name of Soufiane Kayal in the Belgian town of Auvelais that was allegedly used as a safe house. Prosecutors said traces of his DNA were found there.

Abdeslam has a court hearing on Wednesday. France has requested his extradition but Abdeslam's lawyer says his client will fight the request.