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Brussels explosions: 'There were pieces of glass, smoke, water coming down'

Screengrab, France 24

Two deadly explosions ripped through Brussels's Zaventem airport early Tuesday shortly before another blast was heard at a metro station near the EU headquarters. FRANCE 24 was able to speak to witnesses.


FRANCE 24 spoke to witnesses, who were at the departure hall in Brussels airport when one of the explosions occurred near the American Airlines terminal.

One woman said she was eating breakfast at a cafe above the departure hall.

“There was an initial explosion, and people started screaming and trying to evacuate. Then, there was a second, very strong explosion and it shattered the windows,” she told FRANCE 24. “I think many people were injured by pieces of glass.”

A man told FRANCE 24 about the chaos inside the airport.

“It was a mess, there were pieces of glass, smoke and water coming down from the ceiling,” he said. “We had to walk through puddles of water.”

In the chaos, it was hard to know what to do, another woman told FRANCE 24. She was with her partner, when they heard the first explosion.

“It was close enough that it reverberated throughout our bodies. We just looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s go this way’, because it was over there and it was just this instant [feeling of] ‘let’s get away from it,’" she said. “Then we saw people running and crying towards us so I knew we were going in the right direction by moving away from it.”

Another woman was in a bus at the airport.

“We saw smashed windows,” she said. “We didn’t get any more information so it was really frightening”.

Metro blast: 'Faces covered in blood'

Later in the morning, another explosion was reported at Maelbeek metro station.

Evan Lamos was riding the metro towards Maelbeek station, about a five-minute walk from the European Council, right in the hub of the EU district, when he heard an explosion.

“It wasn’t very loud and we felt a small blast of air like you were standing in front of a house fan, but my ears popped,” Evan told FRANCE 24. “The metro stopped, the power shut off and there was immediately a message that came on that said there was a disturbance on the line. Then we heard soft thudding in the distance, it was quieter than I might have thought.”

He remained trapped in the metro car for a few minutes before being evacuated.

Ruby Livings Waterworth, however, was walking in the street towards the Schuman roundabout, when she saw lots of people gathered in the street in front of a Commission building on rue Joseph II.

“A man across the road had hands covered in blood. Then, I realised that next to me a man and women had dust all in their hair and faces covered in blood,” she told FRANCE 24. “I am now at work and the road is blocked at least on one side. But there are people still walking in the street and I think they were people coming out of Maelbeek metro.”

Police carry out raids amidst “scenes of chaos” in Brussels

FRANCE 24’s Méabh McMahon reported that there were “scenes of absolute chaos” outside Maelbeek station, with people “very worried”.

“I’ve seen and heard sirens all morning, all around the city,” McMahon said. “I’ve also seen different parts of the city cornered off, where police seem to be carrying out raids.”

McMahon said she had heard rumours that police were carrying out “a massive operation” in Koekelberg, a neighbourhood next to Molenbeek, the neighbourhood where Salah Abdeslam, accused of “terrorist murder” for his involvement in the November 13 Paris attacks, was arrested last Friday.

The airport has been evacuated and trains and buses to the airport are not running. The road to Brussels airport has been blocked and only ambulances were being let through, according to McMahon.

In the meantime, Brussels has also shut down all public transport and closed public schools in the wake of the attacks. Many people have been told to stay at home.

McMahon also reported that it was very difficult to get a taxi in the city and that some people were reporting problems with their cell phones.

Brussels has been on high alert since the November 13 terrorist attacks.

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