At least 23 people have been killed and dozens injured in Brussels after a series of terror attacks struck the city’s airport and a metro station near the EU headquarters.
Witnesses described apocalyptic scenes with blood and ‘dismembered bodies everywhere’ after two blasts rocked the American Airlines check-in desk at Brussels Airport at 8am (7am GMT) in a suspected suicide bombing. At least 13 people were killed and 35 injured.
Around 90 minutes later, ten people are believed to have died when an explosion hit a Metro station just 400 metres from the EU headquarters in the city centre in another suspected terror attack.
The explosions come just a day after the Belgium Interior Minister warned of possible revenge attacks after the arrest of Paris massacre suspect Salah Abdeslam in the city last week.
At the airport, shouts in Arabic were reportedly heard before the explosions which sent shockwaves through the terminal building, shattering windows, knocking roof tiles off the ceiling and sending terrified passengers running for their lives.
Samir Derrouich, who works at a restaurant in the airport, told MailOnline: ‘The two explosions were almost simultaneous.
‘They were both at check-in desk. One was close to the Starbucks. It was awful. There was just blood. It was like the apocalypse.’
Photographs from inside the arrivals hall showed the floor covered in fallen tiles and dust as bloodied people hobbled out of the airport. Others injured were photographed lying on the floor.
Video showed terrified passengers running for their lives out of the building.
Firefighters who entered the terminal to search for survivors are said to have found a third unexploded device, while armed police in protective clothing combed the building for more wounded travellers and suspicious bags.
In the aftermath, thousands of people waiting for flights this morning were penned inside the terminal as police sealed off the shattered arrivals hall.
People already checked in were then slowly evacuated through emergency exits – but were told to leave all their hand luggage as police checked bags for more explosives.
Evacuated passengers are being ferried onto buses and are being driven to a ‘crisis centre’ away from the airport, with women and children being moved first.
Dries Valaert, 30, was waiting to get his boarding pass from a check in desk when the blast struck.
He told MailOnline: ‘There was a first blast and then ten seconds later a second explosion. It was a big, big blast, the ceiling went down. It was just 30 metres from where I was.
‘I saw people down on the ground and I just went running. I jumped over the security fences towards the departure gates as I thought it would be safer.
‘My first intuition was to get out in case their were attackers with guns. I saw a woman around 18 years old with a hole in her hand with blood pouring out and a man with an injured ankle and two people down. There was lots of panic. People were running all over the place.’
Mr Valaert, who was flying to a business meeting in Berlin, said he believed the bombs were hidden in suitcases that had just been checked in.
He said: ‘The explosions were just behind the service desks, they were blown towards us. To me it is the most realistic possibility. I don’t think it was someone with a suicide vest.’
All flights are being diverted from the airport this morning as it remains on lockdown.
Flights due to land at Brussels-Zaventem, which handles 21million passengers a year, were sent to Antwerp, Liege, and Brussels Charleroi airports.
Europe’s biggest airports are all increasing their security today. Heathrow confirmed it had stepped up its own ‘visible’ security in the wake of the attacks – with large units of armed police patrolling the airport this morning.
The Belgian Interior Minister has raised the country’s security level to ‘maximum’ this morning as it prepares itself for more terror attacks in the wake of the airport bombings.
British Prime Minister David Cameron offered his support to victims and called a COBRA emergency committee meeting to address the events in Brussels.
He tweeted: ‘I am shocked and concerned by the events in Brussels. We will do everything we can to help.
‘I will be chairing a COBRA meeting on the events in Brussels later this morning.’
The incident came as the Belgian capital was on a state of high alert following the arrest of Paris terror attack suspect Salah Abdeslam in the city last week.
Belgium’s Interior Minister, Jan Jambon, said the country was on high alert for a possible revenge attack following the capture of 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam in a flat in Brussels on Friday.
‘We know that stopping one cell can… push others into action. We are aware of it in this case,’ he told public radio.
France is seeking Abdeslam’s extradition so he can stand trial for his alleged role in the November 13 rampage of gunfire and suicide bombings that killed 130 people in Paris.
Belgium is under great tension, with its federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw saying yesterday that last year the country worked on 315 new anti-terror cases and nearly 60 so far this year.
Indeed, many witnesses at Brussels Airport today immediately jumped to the conclusion that there had been a terrorist attack, which reflects the nature of the country.
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