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At Least 23 Dead as Multiple Blasts Hit Brussels Airport, Metro Station

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At least 23 people have been killed and dozens more injured after two blasts went off in the departure hall of Brussels Zaventem Airport and another blast on the Brussels subway on Tuesday morning.

Local media reports said as many as 30 people could have been killed and more than 80 wounded. Belgium’s federal prosecutor has confirmed that the airport attack was carried out by a suicide bomber.

Brussels transit spokesman Guy Sablon told reporters that 15 people were killed and 55 injured in the attack at the Maelbeek Metro station, which is close to the European Union headquarters.

The Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michels confirmed that, “what we feared has happened, we were hit by blind attacks,” adding, “we know there are many dead, many injured.” King Philipp of Belgium condemned the heinous attacks on Brussels.

“There was smoke surrounding the buildings and the smell of burning everywhere,” said Andrew Wilson, a 28-year-old policy official who was inside the E.U. Thon Hotel near the subway station where the blast hit.

“The area I am in has been completely shut down. We’ve been locked inside cafes,” Wilson told TIME, adding that the hotel is being used to house those who were in the Metro station at the time of the explosion.

Yassine Amrani, a 38-year-old homeless person who lives in the airport parking area, was covered in blood. “I was with my friends – boom, in one second, all the people were running away. I went inside and I saw everywhere dead people and fire. There were fire extinguishers and I was looking for people because the ceiling had fallen on the people and you had to search for the people. There were many deaths. People were dying in my arms. One woman had a baby in her arms and kept saying “my baby, my baby”. I said “you have your baby in your arms and he is fine.”

Colonel Chuck Helms, a U.S. soldier, said he traveling to Uganda when the blast hit the airport. “I’m a medic, so I embedded with the Belgian medic and we gave first aid to about 15 people. I was in Terminal T when the bomb went off. We moved here (outside the terminal). I saw the Belgian medic and because I’m a medic I said “can I assist” and he said “come with me”. We moved in to where the bombing area was and we were able to provide trauma and then we went outside and provided first aid here. There was a lot of people trying to help, you had the police, you had the military, but there was glass everywhere, so most of the military had glass in their hands, they didn’t realise that they had injuries because they were trying to assist people. There were a lot of tourniquets, a lot of people had put on tourniquets. I didn’t see anyone I thought was a complete casualty, I didn’t see any deaths. “

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Tuesday’s attacks.

All stations in the city’s bus, tram and Metro networks have been completely shut down in response to the attacks.

LIVE: Belgian prosecutor confirms Brussels blast was a suicide attack: RTBF. Updates – https://t.co/AswLeRmf7a pic.twitter.com/taWzGW7mYz

— Reuters (@Reuters) March 22, 2016

Images on social media show smoke rising from the terminal building. The Associated Press cited an airport official saying all outbound flights were canceled and inbound flights are being diverted.

Brussels has been on high alert after Salah Abdeslam, a suspect in the November Paris terrorist attacks, was arrested there on Friday. Belgium’s interior minister told the AP that the country had now raised its terror alert to the maximum level.

The story is developing.

[Sky News, AP, AFP]

With additional reporting by Helen Regan

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Write to Simon Lewis and Charlotte McDonald-Gibson/Brussels at simon_daniel.lewis@timeasia.com