British national injured in Brussels terror attack
- Credit: AP
One British national is known to have been injured in the terror attack on Brussels Airport this morning, Downing Street has said.
At least 28 people have died in the bomb blasts, at Brussels Airport and the city’s main airport and at Maelbeek Metro station, which is near to the European Parliament building.
Speaking to reporters in Whitehall, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said earlier today: “It looks as though there may be one UK casualty, as I’m sure you are aware, though the details of that are very sketchy.
“The most important thing to get across is we know of no reason to think that there is any read across from what’s happened in Brussels to events here in this city.
“We have no intelligence to suggest there is any immediate threat, but as a precaution and for the purposes of reassurance, there has been a stepping up of the presence of police at major airports.”
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The attacks, condemned as “blind, violent and cowardly” by Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, came after the arrest in the city last week of terror mastermind Salah Abdeslam, who plotted November’s Paris atrocity from the notorious Molenbeek suburb of Brussels.
The airport was targeted at around 8am local time, with the explosion at the metro station about an hour later.
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Video footage shot from an airport car park showed people fleeing in terror, and footage from inside the building showed a scene of devastation with ceiling tiles strewn across the floor and suitcases abandoned.
All flights today have been cancelled. Arriving planes were diverted and Belgium’s terror alert level was raised to maximum, officials said.
Both the airport and Metro system have been closed, along with other public transport, following the attacks.
A fire service spokesman said there were 11 dead at the airport. The Metro explosion killed 15 and injured 55, 10 critically, transport operator STIB told Belgian broadcaster RTBF.
MEP for the East of England, Richard Howitt, tweeted: “The European Parliament is in lockdown after bombs which are now said to be in 4 Metro Stations. We are inside but SAFE.
He earlier tweeted that he had used the Metro station 30 minutes before the explosion, and also tweeted: “Belgian media say 11 dead in #Brussels Airport bomb. We stand in silence but now proceed with vote in parliament. Democracy must always win.”
MEP Vicky Ford tweeted: “Thank you for all messages – I’m ok but thinking of those who are not. Staying inside with team, extra security.”
Norwich City Football Club confirmed Dieumerci Mbokani was at the airport at the time of the explosion at the time of the explosion.
They said the striker, who is on loan from Dynamo Kiev, was “unharmed but shaken” and that the club was in “constant dialogue” with the striker, who has returned home to his family.
A spokesman at London Stansted Airport confirmed the airport was open and operating as normal, with an armed police presence from Essex Police visibly on site.
He added that the airport was liasing with the force about the situation.
Security at London Gatwick has been increased following the explosions, with a spokesman saying the safety of passengers and staff was the “absolute priority”.
He added: “As a result of the terrible incidents in Brussels we have increased our security presence and patrols around the airport.”
Heathrow issued a statement, which read: “In the light of events in Brussels airport we are working with the police at Heathrow who are providing a high visibility presence.”
All Eurostar trains to and from Brussels have also been suspended, with services from London terminating in the French city of Lille.
Security has also been stepped up at transport hubs in the UK, with police forces across the country increasing their presence at key locations.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its travel advice for Britons in Brussels, urging them to “stay away from crowded places and avoid public transport at this time”.
British officials in the city have been given the same instructions, the FCO said.
A spokesman for travel organisation Abta said British holidaymakers in Brussels should follow the instructions of the Belgian authorities, while those due to travel should contact their transport provider.
European Council president Donald Tusk said the bombings represented “another low” from the terrorists.
He said: “I am appalled by the bombings this morning at Zaventem airport and the European district in Brussels which have cost several innocent lives and injured many others.
“I extend my sincerest sympathies to the relatives and friends of the victims. These attacks mark another low by the terrorists in the service of hatred and violence.
“The European institutions are hosted in Brussels thanks to the generosity of Belgium’s government and its people. The European Union returns this solidarity now and will fulfil its role to help Brussels, Belgium and Europe as a whole counter the terror threat which we are all facing.”