Death toll reaches 30 in Brussels terror attacks

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BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The death toll in Tuesday's attacks at the Brussels Airport and at a metro station stands at 30, but that number could change, Belgian government representative Angelique Crucilla said.

Ten people were killed and 100 were injured at the airport; and 20 were killed and 130 were injured at the metro station, Crucilla said.

 

"We were fearing terrorist attacks, and that has now happened," Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told reporters.

Belgian federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said it was too soon to know exactly how many people died in the bombings.

Of the two explosions at the airport, at least one was a suicide bombing, Van Leeuw said. A blast happened there outside the security checkpoints for ticketed passengers and near the airline check-in counters, an airline official briefed on the situation said.

The subway station blast happened in the Brussels district of Maalbeek, near the European quarter, where much of the European Union is based, according to CNN affiliate RTL.

Richard Medic, who arrived at the station shortly after that explosion, wasn't surprised by the carnage after all that Europe has gone through recently, including the November's massacre in Paris that ISIS claimed responsibility for.

"I think, after the Paris attacks, we were assuming like this would happen," the Brussels resident told CNN. "And it was a matter of time."

Yet Jeff Versele, who was in the airport's departure hall when the blasts occurred, said that he thinks Belgians should not hole themselves up and instead should continue to travel "to prove that we're not afraid of those who have done (the attacks)."

That doesn't mean being in the middle of it all, though, isn't frightening.

"You cannot believe it; you cannot believe it," Versele told CNN. "It was so insane. Not in my backyard."

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Security precautions taken

Belgian authorities took security precautions after Tuesday's attacks, including shutting down all Brussels metro stations and evacuating the city's airport.

This comes as the terror threat level in Belgium went up four -- its highest. That step-up means army soldiers can be sent onto the streets to meet security needs.

The effects were felt outside the Belgian capital as well.

Eurostar, a high-speed railway that also goes to England and France, noted a number of schedule and other changes.

And London's Heathrow Airport tweeted that travelers there should expect "a high visibility presence at Heathrow." Gatwick Airport, also in the British capital, likewise noted "there will be increased police and security patrols."

The Brussels airport attack

Anthony Barrett said he heard something about 8 a.m. local time from his hotel across from the terminal building.

"When I opened the curtains and looked out, I could see people fleeing," he told CNN.

He said he's seen about 19 or 20 stretchers carrying people so far. Luggage trollies were also being used to transport the wounded.

"It's clearly a very serious incident," he said.

Federal police at the airport at Zaventem told CNN that "there has been an explosion" and "something has happened."

Witnesses told RTL that at least one of the two explosions took place in the airport's departure hall.

Dozens of people have been taken out of the airport on stretchers, according to eyewitnesses.

The Brussels airport tweeted that there have been two blasts and said that "the building" is being evacuated. They also said all airport operations have been suspended and asked those nearby to remain calm.

The airport is being evacuated and a disaster plan has been initiated, RTL reported. Passengers have been directed to the airport runways.

One of them, Jeffrey Edison, had cleared security and was out by the gate, several hundred yards from the departure lounge, where the explosions occurred. He told CNN he didn't hear the blasts but "suddenly saw" 200 to 300 people rushing toward him from the security checkpoint.

He says it took authorities around 25 minutes to tell the passengers what had happened, before evacuating the area and leading the passengers to the runways.

The metro attack

The Belgian crisis center tweeted that all public transportation in the city has been closed.

"Stay where you are," it said.

Kristalina Georgieva, the vice president of the European Commission, said that all the organization's institutions are at "alert level orange" and that all meetings on its premises and outside have been canceled.

She advised people to stay at home or indoors.

"I am shocked and concerned by the events in Brussels," British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted. "We will do everything we can to help."

The incident comes after Salah Abdeslam, a man who authorities say was involved in the Paris terror attacks last year, was arrested in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek on Friday.

Belgium's Prime Minister deflected a question about whether there's any link between Tuesday's bloodshed and Abdeslam's capture, saying it is too early to tell.

He said Tuesday that he had "no information" about who was responsible for the attack, adding that authorities will find that out, but right now their focus is on caring for the victims.

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