At least 26 people have been killed or seriously injured in terrorist attacks at Brussels international airport and a city metro station, reports BBC.
Twin blasts hit Zaventem airport at about 07:00 GMT, killing 11 and injuring 81, the health minister said.
Another explosion struck Maelbeek metro station an hour later. Brussels transport officials say 15 people were killed and 55 injured, 10 seriously.
Belgium has now raised its terrorism threat to its highest level.
The attacks come four days after Salah Abdeslam, the main fugitive in the Paris attacks, was seized in Brussels.
Prime Minister Charles Michel called the latest attacks “blind, violent and cowardly”, adding: “This is a day of tragedy, a black day… I would like to call on everyone to show calmness and solidarity”.
President Iohannis : Today is a black day for the civilized World
“This morning, explosions resulting in dead and wounded occurred in the airport of Brussels. Experts say it is very probably a terrorist attack. We are terrified and saddened, and I am using this opportunity to voice my full compassion and condolences to those hit by this incident, to Belgian authorities, to the [Belgian] people, and I think that, if the hypothesis of an attack is confirmed, this is an event that shows us that terrorism stayed in the heart of Europe. We are extremely worried and we will monitor the events in Brussels,” the head of state said during an event dedicated to the International Francophonie Day at the Cotroceni Palace, seat of the Presidential Administration.
Later in the day, President Klaus Iohannis firmly condemned the terrorist attacks in Brussels on Tuesday and offered Romania’s full support to Belgian authorities.
“Meanwhile [editor’s note – after Iohannis’s first mention of the Brussels airport explosions], several explosions occurred in the Brussels metro. We can no longer talk about a probability; Brussels is under terrorist attack. We condemn with full strength these terrorist attacks. We remember with sorrow the attacks in Paris. Europe is under terrorist attack. Today is a black day for the civilized worlds. We condemn these attacks, while I voice my full compassion and solidarity to Belgium, to Belgian authorities. We are offering our full support, alongside Romania’s Government; we will support the Belgian authorities with all that is necessary,” the President told the audience of an unrelated event at the Presidential Administration.
“Expressing this solidarity and compassion is necessary,” Iohannis said, calling the audience to observe a moment of silence for the victims.
PM Ciolos: Government deeply shocked and concerned about serious situation caused by Brussels blasts
The Romanian Government is “shocked and concerned about the serious situation” created after the Brussels blasts and strongly condemns “these violent acts,” PM Dacian Ciolos stated on Tuesday.
“The Government I lead is profoundly shocked and concerned with the serious situation caused by the explosions in Brussels this morning. The Romanian Government strongly condemns these violent acts and expresses its support for the Belgian and European authorities to end this type of situations and to strengthen security in the European space. Moreover, the Romanian Government sends condolences to the families of victims and assures citizens that all necessary measures were taken to strengthen security at domestic level,” Romanian PM Ciolos said..
According to Ciolos, the Government is in permanent contact with the Romanian community in Brussels via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Romania to Belgium.
ForMin Comanescu terrified by Brussels attack
Foreign Affairs Minister Lazar Comanescu send on Tuesday his condolences for the victims of explosions in Brussels.
“I want (…) to say how terrified I am to find out what happened less than one hour ago in the heart of Europe, in Brussels, and to express my condolences for the loss of human life, compassion for the people close to those who lost their lives,” Comanescu said at an unrelated event at the Presidential Administration.
“This is another confirmation of the fact that all of us who love peace, prosperity and personal progress join our efforts to fight with determination in order to eliminate [terrorism] this plague of the 21st century that keeps changing innocent lives,” said the top Romanian diplomat.
Romanian Foreign Ministry condemns terrorist attacks in Brussels, triggers crisis mechanisms
The Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE) firmly condemns the Tuesday morning attacks in Brussels; Minister Lazar Comanescu assured that the MAE endeavours to support the Romanian citizens in the Belgian capital and relevant crisis situation mechanisms have been triggered.
“We are shocked by these violent incidents and I express my deepest regret for the human losses. I sent my sincere condolences to the affected families and our entire compassion to the wounded in these tragic events. In such difficult moments, it is important that we prove solidarity on a European level to fight with resolution and in full strength against this plague of the 21st century that continues to destroy innocent lives. I restate Romania’s strong commitment to the fight against terrorism on European and international levels. Moreover, the MAE is striving to support the Romanian nationals in Brussels and their families, as it triggered all applicable mechanisms in such crisis situations,” Comanescu is quoted in a press release of the MAE.
DefMin Motoc calls for coordinated effort against terrorism
Defence Minister Mihnea Motoc wants the efforts against terrorism to continue, the Ministry of National Defence stated in a release to Agerpres after the Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels.
“I am deeply saddened by the death and wounding of innocent people following today’s terrorist attacks in Brussels. I send my condolences to the grieving families; I have promptly sent a message of compassion and solidarity to my Belgian counterpart, Minister Steven Vandeput. I strongly believe we must carry on our coordinated and firm effort against the plague of terrorism targeting the shared European values and threatening the life of all people, irrespective their nationality or beliefs,” the release quotes Motoc.
Patriarch Daniel sends message of compassion and solidarity with Belgian people
Patriarch Daniel, head of the Romanian Orthodox Church, sent on Tuesday a message of compassion and solidarity with the Belgian people upon the terrorist attacks in Brussels.
“It is with sorrow and concern that I learnt about the terrorist attack in the morning of 22 March 2016 in Brussels, which caused 13 deaths and injured other 35. In these difficult moments for the Belgian people, we pray for the peace of the deceased, for the solace of the bereaved families and the recovery of the injured. We express our solidarity with the Belgian people – severely tested now – as well as our oncern with the rise of terrorism in the European space. We pray to God for the peace, understanding and coexistence between people of different ethnicities, cultures and religions,” reads Patriarch’s message issued by the Press Office of the Romanian Patriarchate.
Travel alert by Foreign Affairs Ministry – level 4 alert in Brussels
The Belgian authorities have issued a level 4 (highest) alert following the terrorist attacks on Tuesday morning at the Zaventem International Airport in Brussels, which was shut down, the Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE) informs in a travel alert release.
According to the source, some flights were redirected to Amsterdam, including TAROM – RO 371 (Bucharest – Brussels) which should have landed at 9.20am (local time) at Zaventem.
“Thus, the terrorist alert level for the Brussels Region was raised at its highest level – ‘serious, imminent terrorist threat’ – and the level 3 alert – ‘possible and credible’ threat is already in force for the rest of the Belgian territory. All train lines, the underground and the public transport are cancelled, and the road traffic is going on with difficulty due to police road filters and the civil protection’s specific intervention means,” the MAE adds.
The police forces and the army will maintain their presence in the streets of Brussels, as the relevant emergency plan is enforced, the ministry mentioned.
Romanian Intelligence Service keeps national terrorist alert level in Romania at blue cautious
The national terrorist alert level in Romania is kept at blue, cautious, Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) reported on Tuesday.
“The alert level under Romania’s National System for Terrorist Alert is staying at blue, cautious. That means available information so far does not indicate any direct connection between the events in Brussels and risks against national security in Romania. Nevertheless, SRI has taken all the necessary measures to ensure the safety of the Romanian nationals. Our hearts go out to the families of those who died in these criminal attacks and we are collaborating with our partners in the National Terrorism Prevention and Combat System as well as similar organisations in the Euro-Atlantic space,” SRI Director Eduard Hellvig is quoted as saying in a press statement sent to Agerpres.
SRI is firmly condemning today’s terror attacks in the capital city of Belgium.
“We are with the Belgian people and will continue to provide support to our organisational partners in our joint fight against terror. What happened in Belgium cannot but affect us. We are now talking about global terrorism. States as compact entities are no longer the targets of terrorists, but the citizens directly as individual entities. That is why I do not see as exaggerated any measure that can prevent any terrorist actions that could endanger national security. Our main goal is to prevent such terror threats. The law and intelligence are our main weapons. When the life of just one citizen is endangered, we act firmly using all the legal tools and means provided for by the law,” added Hellvig.
PM Ciolos: Romanian authorities took every step to protect Romanians in Belgium
Authorities in Bucharest took every step to protect the Romanian citizens in Belgium, Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos declared on Tuesday after the terrorist attacks in Brussels. He mentioned talks with intelligence and home affairs officials who assured him there was no threat for Romania.
Ciolos mentioned input from Interior Minister Petre Toba, from the head of Romanian Intelligence Service Eduard Hellvig and from Romania’s ambassador to Belgium Stefan Tinca.
“Romania’s diplomatic mission – both the embassy and the permanent representation [in Brussels] are mobilized to help Romanian citizens who need it. I have made sure there are no Romanian citizens among the victims, not at the [Zaventem] airport, nor at the subway station. Romanian citizens on missions in Brussels and paying working visits to the European Commission are currently at our permanent representation; I have talked with people there, so they are safe,” the premier detailed.
He added that the Foreign Affairs Ministry has mobilized a crisis cell at the Romanian embassy in Brussels and made phone numbers available for Romanians who need information, whether they live in Belgium or have relatives there.
“We have a team at the Amsterdam airport where a TAROM [Romania’s air company] flight was rerouted this morning; it has already landed; we have a consular team helping in directing passengers arriving for Brussels who were diverted to Amsterdam,” Ciolos stated.
Information from the Interior Ministry also came through its attachés in Brussels, who went to the Zaventem airport in the morning. “According to available information, the TAROM flight already took off before the attacks, so no Romanian citizens, passengers present at the airport to return home should be affected,” the prime minister said.
“On the other hand, I have asked Mr. [Interior Minister Petre Toba] and ambassador Tinca to convey to the Belgian Government our availability to support if needed. I have also had a dialogue to this effect with President [Klaus] Iohannis; we decided together not just to make sure we provide direct help to Romanians who live there [in Belgium], if necessary, but also to help the Belgian authorities if they think it’s necessary. So I want to assure you we’re taking all the necessary approaches to ensure protection to Romanian citizens, while voicing our solidarity on a European level with Belgium’s government and citizens, and once again, our compassion for the victims and their families,” Ciolos told media at an unrelated event.
Commissioner Corina Cretu: I am shocked and extremely concerned about what is happening in Brussels
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu expressed concern on Tuesday about the deadly Brussels attacks.
“I am shocked and extremely worried about what is happening today in Brussels! My thoughts go to the victims and their families!,” Corina Cretu wrote on Facebook.
Romanian Embassy in Belgium provides emergency phone numbers to Romanian citizens
The Embassy of Romania in Belgium provides to Romanian citizens affected by the explosions in Brussels and their relatives several phone numbers where they can receive information on the situation created after Tuesday’s terrorists attacks, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) announced.
The phone numbers are the following: +32 (0)2 347 5338, +32 (0)2 345 0040, +32 (0)2 344 1658. Calls are redirected to the Contact and Support Centre for Romanian Citizens Abroad (CCSCRS) and handled by operators. The emergency mobile phone number of the consular section in Brussels, +32(0)2 344 0854, is also available.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, via the Embassy of Romania to Belgium, is in permanent contact with the local authorities to find out whether any Romanian citizens were affected by the attacks.
“We remind Romanian citizens travelling abroad that they can access the ‘Travel safely’ application (available for free via ‘App Store’ and ‘Google Play’), which offers information, travel recommendations and the possibility to receive alerts on special circumstances, such as the SMS alert service, part of the information campaign ‘An SMS can save your life!’,” the MAE informs.