At least 26 people are dead and more than 100 wounded, after explosions struck Brussels during the Tuesday morning rush hour, Belgian officials say. Two blasts hit the international airport; another struck a metro station. Belgium has issued a Level 4 alert, denoting “serious and imminent attack.”
“What we feared has happened, we were hit by blind attacks,” Prime Minister Charles Michel said at a midday news conference Tuesday. He added that there were many dead and many injured.
Citing Minister of Social Affairs and Health Maggie De Block, Belgian media say 11 people died at the airport attack. Transit and other officials say 15 people died at the metro station. Those same sources say there were 81 injured at the airport and 55 hurt in the Maelbeek train attack.
The number of dead and wounded could rise, as Belgian emergency agencies are focused on responding to those in need. Information is still emerging about this attack, and some reports may later prove inaccurate. Here’s what we know so far:
At Brussels’ Zaventem airport, a suicide attacker struck around 8 a.m. local time, according to a federal prosecutor. The explosions hit near the departure gates, collapsing ceiling panels and shattering glass windows. The blasts sent smoke billowing from the airport and set off a panic as people ran from the airport with whatever they could carry. The facility has now been evacuated and closed.
On a metro train in or near the Maelbeek station, an explosion caused chaos close to the European Union headquarters. That station is about 7 miles from the airport, in the city’s center. Images of the aftermath of that attack show people running for safety along the tracks through a darkened and smoke-filled tunnel.
Brussels has ordered all its tunnels closed to traffic and the city is under a lockdown. The city’s airport is closed for the day and flights are being rerouted to nearby cities.
Belgium’s Crisis Center is urging citizens not to use the phones, saying the system is saturated.
Brussels has shut down its public transit system. Eurostar train service between London and Brussels has also been suspended.
The attack comes four days after Belgian and French police arrested Salah Abdeslam, a central suspect in the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris. Authorities are still looking for his accomplices in that attack.
The U.S. embassy in Brussels is urging American citizens to shelter in place.
European Union institutions are at an Orange alert level orange, with normal business suspended and restricted access.