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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Explosions at Brussels airport and metro station kill at least 34

  • Death toll climbs to at least 34 in attacks on Brussels airport and metro station.
  • Dozens injured in what prosecutors say was a suicide bombing.
  • All public transport shut down in Brussels.
  • Authorities launch massive police operation.
  • Belgian prosecutors confirm the explosions were terrorist attacks.
  • Belgium raised its terror alert to its highest level.
A police officer stands guard as people are evacuated from Brussels airport, after explosions rocked the facility in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday March 22, 2016.AP Photo/Geert Vanden WijngaertA police officer stands guard as people are evacuated from Brussels airport, after explosions rocked the facility in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday March 22, 2016.
Two explosions occurred at Zaventem Airport and another ripped through the Maelbeek metro station in Brussels on Tuesday morning.
20 people died and 106 people were injured after the explosion at the Maelbeek metro station, Brussels mayor Yvan Mayeur said at a press conference. He added that of the 106 injured, 17 were in a serious condition. 

At least 14 people died and 81 were injured at the airport, the Belgian health Minister Maggie De Block told the RTBF.
Belgium's federal prosecutor said the explosion at the airport was caused by a suicide bomber,RTBF reports.
"What we feared has happened, we were hit by blind attacks," Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said at a news conference. "We know there are many dead, many injured."
The RTBF reports that raids are currently being conducted throughout Brussels and that people suspected of being linked to the attacks are actively sought, including by street police patrols. According to the Daily Mail, two suspects were arrested about a mile from the Maelbeek station.
According to Belgian broadcaster VRT, police found a Kalashnikov assault rifle next to a dead attacker at Zaventem Airport.
France's prime minister, Manuel Valls, said France stood in solidarity with Belgium. "We are at war, and have endured for many months now, acts of war in Europe," he said, according to Le Figaro.
French President François Hollande also reacted to the attacks, saying that "Terrorists struck Brussels but it was Europe that was targeted,” the AP reports.
The explosions at the airport originated near the American Airlines check-in desk at about 8 a.m. local time (3 a.m. EDT), according to Sky News. Smoke was seen rising from the airport. There was also video on Twitter of people fleeing.
At about 9 a.m. local time, an explosion was reported in the Maelbeek metro station in Brussels, in the heart of Belgium's government district near the European Council and European Parliament buildings.
Evan Lamos, a freelance video and media worker, was on a train heading into Brussels right before the blast at the metro station. "On the Metro between Schuman and Maelbeek. We have just been stopped due to an 'incident on the line'. Can hear soft thudding in distance," he tweeted.
Emergency services evacuate a woman after a explosion in a main metro station in Brussels on Tuesday, March 22, 2016.AP ImagesEmergency services evacuate a woman after a explosion in a main metro station in Brussels on Tuesday, March 22, 2016.
"We felt a blast of air and my ears popped shortly after leaving Schuman station. The Metro stopped immediately," he added.
He took this video of the train being evacuated in the dark after the explosion:
"Can still hear soft thudding in the distance," Lamos said, before he was evacuated through a smoke-filled tunnel.
At the airport, people began sharing video and photos of the survivors on social media while they were still inside.
All metro stations in Brussels have been closed, and no buses, metros, or trams are running anymore.
Brussels Belgium Metro ExplosionAPTN via APIn this image made from video, emergency rescue workers cared for an unidentified person at the site of an explosion at a metro station in Brussels on Tuesday morning.
Reuters reports that the main rail stations in Brussels are closed, and Eurostar confirmed that no trains were running to or from Brussels.
blur_babs@alxdm/Twitter/The aftermath of the explosion inside the metro.
The blasts come four days after the police in Brussels captured Salah Abdeslam, the main remaining suspect in the Paris attacks in November.
There was footage on Twitter from inside the airport:
Sky News reporter Alex Rossi was at the airport's duty-free shop when the explosions happened.
"I could feel the building move," he said. "There was also dust and smoke as well. I went towards where the explosion came from and there were people coming out looking very dazed and shocked."
People walk away from Brussels airport after explosions rocked the facility in Brussels, Belgium Tuesday March 22, 2016.AP ImagesPeople walk away from Brussels airport after explosions rocked the facility in Brussels, Belgium Tuesday March 22, 2016.
The Belgian news agency Belga reported that shots were fired and that there were shouts in Arabic shortly before the explosion.
brussels mapReuters
Belgium's interior minister, Jan Jambon, announced that terror levels were at maximum levelafter the two explosions and that their absolute priority were the people still at the airport.
Brussels airport confirmed that there had been two explosions, adding that all flights had been cancelled. No trains to and from the airport were running.
According to CNN, the Belgian prosecutor confirmed that the explosions were terrorist attacks and that a criminal investigation was opened.
AFP reports that security at Paris train stations, metros, and airports has been reinforced. Belgians were warned to stay at home and to not make phone calls, as the network was being saturated with calls.
People are driven away from the scene of explosions at Zaventem airport near Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2016.REUTERS/Francois LenoirPeople are driven away from the scene of explosions at Zaventem airport near Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2016.
US President Barack Obama was briefed on the Brussels attacks while on an official visit to Cuba, according to a White House statement.
The FBI  has begun coordinating with its Belgium counterparts and other US agencies following the blasts, Reuters reports.
RTBF reports that all tunnels in Bruxelles have been closed and that border controls at the Belgium-Netherlands border are in place.
NBC News reports that a European counterterrorism official confirmed that ISIS was suspected to be behind the attacks.
According to Reuters, the Belgian Crisis Centre appealed to the population: "Stay where you are."
 
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