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From Peru to Morocco: victims of Brussels carnage

© Patrik Stollarz, AFP | The Place de la Bourse in central Brussels, pictured on March 23, 2016.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-03-24

The names and nationalities of people killed or injured in Tuesday’s devastating bomb attacks in Brussels are beginning to emerge, pointing to a diversity of origins that reflects the cosmopolitan nature of the attackers' target.

According to a provisional toll provided by the Belgian health ministry, 31 people were killed and 270 were injured in the triple bomb attacks – though officials caution that the scale of the devastation means more casualties may yet be unaccounted for.

Officers from the Belgian federal police's disaster victim identification team are still working at the sites of the attacks at Brussels airport and a metro station, poring over the remains in a grisly process to identify the casualties.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders told Belgian television RTBF that there were around 40 nationalities among the dead and wounded.

They included citizens of Britain, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Portugal and the United States, as well as three to four staff from the European Union's executive arm, the European Commission.

The broad range of nationalities reflects the cosmopolitan nature of Brussels – home to many migrants to Belgium as well as numerous international institutions, chief among them the headquarters of the 28-nation EU.

‘They took away everything’

Among the first fatalities to be named was a Peruvian woman, Adelma Marina Tapia Ruiz, 37, who had been living in Belgium for six years and was travelling with her family to New York to meet up with two sisters who live in the United States.

Her Belgian husband, Christophe Delcambe, had taken their twin girls out of the check-in line to play for a moment when a loud explosion ripped through the concourse. One daughter was struck in the arm by shrapnel and is being treated in a local hospital.

The daughters were the love of Tapia’s life, her brother Fernando Tapia told AP. After getting married, the couple had difficulty getting pregnant so they travelled several times to the Amazonian jungle in Peru, where Tapia is from, to seek out medicinal plants to help start a family.

“They never lost hope,” Fernando Tapia said.

Tapia was politically active, and earlier this month participated in Brussels in a march to commemorate International Women’s Day, one of whose aims was to draw attention to the plight of thousands of women refugees arriving in Europe from Syria and other war-torn nations.

Belgium holds minute of silence day after attacks

A Moroccan woman was also killed in a third blast at a metro train at a station close to the European Union's institutional hub, according to the Moroccan news agency MAP.

'Victims of barbaric acts'

A 20-year-old Belgian student, Léopold Hecht, was gravely wounded in the bombing at Maelbeek subway station and died later of his injuries.

Pierre Jadoul, the rector of the Saint-Louis University where Hecht was studying law, announced his death on the school’s Facebook page. “[Hecht] was one of the victims of the barbaric acts carried out on March 22 at the Maelbeek metro station,” he wrote.

“There are no words to describe our dismay at this news,” he said in a letter to students.

Classmates lit candles and left flowers outside the university in memory of Hecht, whose Facebook profile includes pictures of a smiling young man on the ski slopes and in the great outdoors.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Wednesday said ten French nationals had been injured, four of them seriously.

In London, Downing Street said one British national was missing and four were injured, three of whom were being treated in hospital.

Officials in Berlin have spoken of several German nationals among the wounded, including at least one severely injured.

A representative of the German foreign ministry said it could not rule out German fatalities in the attacks.

Missionary casualty also in Paris, Boston attacks

A dozen Americans were wounded in the attacks and "a number" remain unaccounted for including US government employees, the State Department said on Wednesday.

Mason Wells, 19, was one of three US missionaries from Utah who were seriously wounded in the blasts at the airport, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a statement.

US media reports said that in a dark twist of fate, Wells had a similarly close call three years ago while in Boston accompanying his mother who was running the marathon.

The event was the target of a terror attack that killed three and wounded scores more.

NBC News, quoting Wells' family, said he was also in Paris last November when the French capital was rocked by a series of attacks.

Wells "has burns to his hands and legs and some to his face," a family friend, Lloyd Coleman, told Utah's Deseret News daily.

'You need to continue with your life'

The US Air Force said one of its service members and several of his relatives were also injured.

Basketball player Sebastien Bellin, who was pictured lying on the airport floor covered in blood, has had surgery, his father, Jean Bellin, told CNN.

"He is obviously stunned. The first words out of his mouth were 'You wouldn't believe the carnage I saw around'," the father said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

Date created : 2016-03-23

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