A series of bomb explosions at Zaventem Airport and Maalbeek metro station in Brussels, Belgium, have left 31 people dead and approximately 300 injured, with 61 still in a critical condition.
According to the BBC, two suicide bombs were detonated at the airport shortly before 8:00am local time (7:00am GMT) on Tuesday (March 22), with a further suicide bomb detonating at the nearby metro station an hour later. A further bomb partially detonated at the airport later in the day after police had evacuated the terminal, injuring no one.
Security officials have identified four attackers to date, with brothers Khalid and Brahim el-Bakraoui being named as the two of the suicide bombers. A further unnamed attacker was killed at the airport whilst a fourth attacker is believed to be on the run. So-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Speaking at the time of the incident, Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel called the attacks “blind, violent and cowardly”, adding: “This is a day of tragedy, a black day… I would like to call on everyone to show calmness and solidarity.”
Belgium has raised its terror threat to its highest level with Zavetem Airport remaining closed until Saturday (March 26). Airports elsewhere in Europe, including Heathrow and Gatwick in the UK, have also stepped up their security measures.
“We take the safety and security of our passengers and colleagues very seriously and in the light of events, we are working with the police at Heathrow who are providing a high visibility presence,” said, John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow Airport. “We expect flights to Brussels Airport to be affected and ask passengers traveling there to check their flight status with their airline.”
When addressing what further actions can be taken by airports regarding landside security measures, Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe) stated that, “Ultimately, fully securing public spaces through additional security checks would be unrealistic and inefficient. The best way forward in the fight against terrorism is to step up capabilities for the gathering, coordination and sharing of intelligence and data.”
Last updated: 10:30am GMT, March 24