Dozens Killed In Explosions Across Brussels

March 22nd 2016

In what Belgium's prime minister called "a blind attack," a series of explosions tore through the departures area of Zaventem airport and a subway station in Brussels early Tuesday leaving many dead and injured, according to multiple media reports.

More than 30 people are dead and 130 are injured, the New York Times reports, and according to authorities, that death toll could change. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, Reuters reports. 

A suicide bomber was behind at least one of the explosions at the airport, Frederic Van Leeuw, Belgian Federal Prosecutor, said in a press conference.

The city is on lockdown.

All subway stations in Brussels were closed, as reports of smoke were detected close to the European Union headquarters, according to the Associated Press. Shortly after, an explosion also occurred at a subway station in the Maelbeek neighborhood in Brussels, CNN reports. According to the Brussels Metro Authority15 were reported dead and 55 were wounded.

Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel spoke at a press conference early Tuesday, saying "what we feared has happened, we were hit by blind attacks." He tweeted this in French, translated to English by BBC: "For the moment, we are asking people to stay where they are."

He explained the main priority were the victims at the airport, as the situation was developing by the minute.

Hundreds of passengers were trying to check in to flights at around 8 a.m. local time Tuesday, during peak travel time when two explosions occurred in the departure hall, airport spokeswoman Anke Fransen told AP.

"There were two blasts in the departure hall. First aid team are in place for help," Fransen said. It's unclear exactly what happened as the situation develops, however, Belgian public broadcaster RTBF reports that shots were fired at the airport and there were shouts in Arabic shortly before the explosions happened there, according to VICE. Reports at the scene say it was a suicide attack.

All flights were canceled and diverted from Zaventem airport.

There could be a connection to this violence and the 2015 Paris attacks.

This attack comes just four days after suspect Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving member behind the November 13, 2015 attacks in Paris, was arrested in Brussels, according to BBC. The attacks across Paris in November left 130 people dead and began a months-long investigation across Europe to uncover who was behind the organized violence.

As a precaution, France has reinforced security at airports, train stations, and metro stops across the country, AP reports. In London, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the national lead for Counter Terrorism Policing, released this statement that "forces across the UK have increased policing presence at key locations, including transport hubs, to protect the public and provide reassurance. This is not in relation to any specific information or intelligence." In New York, NYPD has responded with increased monitoring at train stations, ABC reports.

Belgian officials raised the terror level threat to the highest level during the investigation.

In the moments after the explosions, these graphic images from the airport began to surface on social media:

People woke up to learn about the attacks and began releasing these emotional responses:

Updated March 22, 2016: This piece has been updated to reflect the increased death toll from the attack in Brussels and that the Islamic State is claiming responsibility. 

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