Early Tuesday morning, just before 8 am local time (3 am Eastern), two explosions went off in the Brussels airport killing at least 11 people. About an hour later, another explosion went off in the Maelbeek subway station in the center of the city, killing at least 15 and wounding 55.
The New York Times reports that the city has been essentially shutdown:
The attacks on Tuesday put the Belgian capital in a state of virtual lockdown, with the threat level raised to its highest possible level. Frédéric Van Leeuw, the Belgian federal prosecutor, said that border controls had been strengthened and extra police officers mobilized.
All flights to and from Brussels Airport were canceled for the day, and flights were diverted. Subway, tram and bus travel was shut down. Eurostar canceled its trains connecting Brussels with Paris and London. Thalys, which runs high-speed trains linking dozens of cities in Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands, suspended service. Cellphone lines were jammed as panicked travelers and Belgians tried to make calls.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel called what are being classified as terror attacks “blind, violent and cowardly.”
“This is a day of tragedy, a black day,” he continued. “I would like to call on everyone to show calmness and solidarity.”
He has since urged all citizens to stay where they are.
We’ll update this post as we know more.
Update (9:45 a.m.): Brussels mayor Yvan Mayeur has updated the number of deaths from the subway blast to 20, raising the total death count to 31.
Update (12:15 p.m.): The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks that killed 31 and wounded up to 190, according to new reports. According to the group’s Amaq news agency, “several of them” set off suicide belts in the airport while other extremists opened fire on civilians. About an hour later, another suicide bomber attacked the subway.
A third bomb has reportedly been deactivated in the airport.
According to BuzzFeed, Brussels Airport will remain closed at least through tomorrow.
Update (1:30 p.m.): Brussels police have issued a wanted notice for a man suspected of being involved in the airport bombing. In the notice, police included a photograph of a man in a white shirt, a jacket and wearing a dark hat, pushing a luggage cart in the airport, according to Reuters.
The police are seeking help identifying the men in the picture, in particular, the man in the white jacket.
“The police is seeking to identify this man,” reads a police statement. “He is suspected of having committed the attack at the Zaventem airport on Tuesday, March 22, 2016.”
Image via AP.