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Explosions hit Brussels airport, several dead

The blasts occurred four days after the arrest in Brussels of a suspected participant in November militant attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. A blast has also been reported at the Maalbeek metro station in Brussels.

Explosions tore through the departure hall of Brussels Airport on Tuesday morning, the Belgian news agency Belga said. The agency said shots were fired and there were shouts in Arabic shortly before the explosions.

Brussels Airport is closed and airplains are redirecting to Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Liege Airports. Rail stations and the metro are also closed.

According to Reuters, the blasts occurred four days after the arrest in Brussels of a suspected participant in November militant attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. Belgian police had been on alert for any reprisal action.

Belgium’s federal prosecutor has confirmed that the explosions at Brussels airport were carried out by a suicide bomber, according to broadcasters VTM and RTBF reported. Police authorities discovered three “suicide vests” inside the airport.

Social media showed pictures of smoke rising from the departure hall where windows had been shattered by the blasts. Passengers were seen running away down a slipway. The Belgian broadcaster RTBF says up to 13 people were killed and 30 wounded in the airport explosions. It cited a hospital source for the figures, according to Reuters.

Belgian media said rail traffic to the airport was suspended. Brussels airport said it had canceled all flights and the complex had been evacuated.

Brussels Zaventem Airport is closed until 6am tomorrow. Flights to/from Brussels Charleroi are running, although with some delays at the airport.

A blast has also been reported at the Maalbeek metro station in Brussels, which is just meters away from the Gare de Bruxelles-Schuman railway station. Large amounts of smoke have been seen coming out of the metro station in the Belgian capital. Brussels’ transport authority says all metro stations in the city are being closed, Reuters reports

The Maalbeek station is also near a number of important EU buildings such as Berlaymont building, which houses the EU Commission and the Council of the European Union.

All trains to Brussels stations from Paris have been cancelled.

UNWTO strongly condemns the attacks in Brussels
UNWTO is deeply shocked by the tragic attacks perpetrated in Brussels. On behalf of the international tourism community, UNWTO expresses its heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims and to the Belgian people in this difficult moment.

“On the behalf of the international tourism community, UNWTO conveys its heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims and expresses its full solidarity with the people and the Government of Belgium” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

“This is not an attack on Belgium, it is an attack on us all and sadly these tragic events remind us again that we are facing a global threat that needs to be addressed globally” he added.

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