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Two explosions ripped through the Brussels airport departure hall and a third rocked a downtown subway station on Tuesday morning, causing deaths and injuries, according to initial Belgian news reports.
Air passengers said the bombs went off in rapid succession around 8 a.m., the peak check-in hour for morning flights within Europe. Belgian police said there was at least one dead, while VTM news put the toll at 11, citing a local fire department. An hour later, an explosion hit a subway station a short walk from European Union headquarters.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel convened national security advisers and said the incidents are being treated as possible terrorist attacks.
Takeoffs and landings were suspended and public transport was halted to the airport, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from central Brussels. Incoming flights were diverted to other Belgian airports.
Panicked travellers were shown fleeing toward the airport parking garage in television images. “Soldiers are pushing us back, people are running in every direction,” a witness named David told RTL television.
Belgium is on high alert after the capture of Paris terror attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam, believed to be the only surviving participant of the November massacre that left 130 people dead. Abdeslam faces a Brussels court decision on Wednesday on whether to extend a Belgian arrest warrant issued on Saturday.
TV images of Brussels airport showed collapsed ceiling tiles littering the departure hall. A fire department spokesman told RTL there were more than 10 “seriously” wounded by the “very violent explosion.”
Smoke poured out of the Maelbeek metro station, one stop from the main offices of the European Commission. At least two seriously injured, soot-covered people were seen taken out on stretchers as police cordoned off the station.
The Brussels subway network was shut down.
This article was written by Jonathan Stearns and James G. Neuger from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.