Deadly explosions ripped through Belgium early Tuesday, killing at many as 23 people at the Brussels Airport and a metro station four days after authorities captured Paris attacker Salah Abdelslam.
Twin blasts at Brussels Airport killed at least 13 people, sending travelers at the international hub in Zaventem fleeing from the departure hall. The first blast shattered glass windows and scattered debris onto the sidewalks and departure lobby, where witnesses saw black plumes of smoke rising from the building.
“The entrance area of the main departure area is partly destroyed,” said Daniela Schwarzer, a traveler who witnessed the chaos.
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The immediate aftermath of the Brussels Airport explosions. Travelers fled the airport after hearing two explosions, which left the departure area entrance "partly destroyed," according to a witness.
A second explosion tore through the ceiling and ruptured water pipes, said a witness who arrived on a flight from Geneva before the incident.
“It was atrocious,” Zach Mouzoun told France’s BFM-TV, describing the blast zone as a “war zone.” “There was blood everywhere."
Passengers are evacuated from the terminal building after the blasts.
PARIS TERROR ATTACK SUSPECT SALAH ABDESLAM WANTED TO 'RESTART SOMETHING' FROM BRUSSELS
About an hour after the airport blasts, another explosion shook the Maalbeek metro station, located in a Brussels district six miles from the airport. Initial reports put the death toll at 10.
“There was a really loud explosion,” Alexandre Brans told the Associated Press. “It was panic everywhere. There were a lot of people in the metro.”
The blast mangled a train car, wounding several people, whom paramedics tended to on a sidewalk outside the Lex Building. The high-rise houses an annex for the Council of the European Union about 1,000 feet from the European Commission headquarters.
© FRANCOIS LENOIR / REUTERS/REUTERS
Emergency services mobilize at the scene of the explosions at Zaventem airport near Brussels, Belgium, early Tuesday.
The incident prompted the closure of all metro train service across the city.
The first explosions were confirmed by Brussels Airport officials, who tweeted that the building is being evacuated. The explosions went off in the departures area, scattering piles of glass onto the floor in front of a row of check-in kiosks.
Emergency services personnel work near Brussels' Maalbeek metro station, where at least 10 people were reported dead in another blast.
“Don’t come to the airport area,” an airport official tweeted, adding that all flights have been canceled.
Several photos circulating on social media show victims with bloodied legs lying on the floor.
It's unclear what caused the explosions at this time.
The blasts raised Belgium’s threat level to four, its highest degree, which is defined as "serious and imminent."
The country has been the focus of anti-terrorism operations related to the Paris terror attacks in November 2015, when it emerged that the suspects obtained explosives and a car in the country before going to France.
Salah Abdeslam, a 26-year-old Frenchman born in Brussels believed to be the last remaining attack participant,was captured in Brussels' Molenbeek neighborhood on Friday.
The 26-year-old’s apprehension, during which Abdeslam was shot in the leg, ended more than four months of searching for the man who was Europe’s most wanted.
Public prosecutor Francois Molins said that the suspect had wanted to blow himself up outside the French national soccer stadium the night of the attacks but changed his mind.
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said after the arrest that Abdeslam was “ready to restart something from Brussels.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.
With News Wire Services