BRUSSELS (AP/MEDIA GENERAL) — Bombs exploded at the Brussels airport and one of the city’s metro stations Tuesday, killing at least 31 people and wounding dozens. Events unfolded quickly and were shared worldwide almost in real-time. Here’s what we’ve learned so far about what happened when for the people of Brussels.
The times below are in Brussels local time.
8:30 a.m.: Airport explosions
Two explosions ripped through Brussels airport Tuesday during the morning rush hour as hundreds of passengers were trying to check in. Airport authorities said the explosions caused several injuries.
Airport spokeswoman Anke Fransen said: “There were two blasts in the departure hall. First aid team are in place for help.” Passengers were led onto the tarmac and the crisis center urged people not to come to the airport.
9:40 a.m.: Metro station explosion
An Associated Press reporter saw several people with facial injuries following an explosion in a Brussels metro station near European Union headquarters. At least two people were seen being moved on stretchers
Alexandre Brans, 32, who was wiping blood from his face, said: “The metro was leaving Maelbeek station when there was a really loud explosion. It was panic everywhere. There were a lot of people in the metro.”
10:40 a.m.: Airports worldwide increase security
British airports are increasing security and Prime Minister David Cameron is convening the government’s emergency committee after the explosions at Brussels airport and on the city’s subway system.
Cameron said Britain would “do everything we can to help.” Britain’s official terrorist threat level stands at “severe,” the second-highest level on a five-point scale, meaning an attack is highly likely.
11:00 a.m.: First official word it’s terror
In a statement marked “aanslagen” – terror attacks in Dutch – the prosecutor’s office inBrussels has warned people to stay inside until the situation is cleared up.
After a few hours of uncertainty on the explosion during morning rush hour, it was the first official indication that indeed, they were expected to be terror attacks.
11:05 a.m.: Bombing details emerge
Anthony Deloos, an employee of services company Swissport, said the first explosion took place near a counter where customers pay for overweight baggage. He and colleague said second blast was near the Starbucks.
“Twenty meters (yards) from us we heard a big explosion,” and shredded paper was flying through the air, Deloos said. He first thought a billboard had fallen down, but a colleague told him to run.
“I jumped into a luggage chute to be safe,” he said.
11:50 a.m.: Belgian Prime Minister: ‘What we feared has happened.’
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel says “what we feared has happened” and says authorities are worried there will be more attacks.
Speaking a news conference in Brussels, Michel says “there are many dead, many injured” from the attacks earlier Tuesday at the airport and a subway station. He says border controls have been reinforced.
Michel says “we realize we face a tragic moment. We have to be calm and show solidarity.”
3:45 p.m.: Suitcase and suicide bomb
A U.S. official says security officials believe at least one suitcase bomb was detonated at Brussels Airport on Tuesday morning.
The official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the early investigations, confirmed a statement by a Brussels official that there is also concrete evidence of one suicide bombing at the airport Tuesday as well.
U.S. intelligence agencies had been on alert for possible attacks since Friday’s arrest in Belgium of accused Paris attacks conspirator Salah Abdeslam. But the official said it was unclear if Tuesday’s bombings were already planned and set in motion by his or another existing network, or if they were a direct response to Abdeslam’s arrest.
The official said the explosives seen in Brussels on Tuesday appear sophisticated. Investigators will examine them to see if they bear the same characteristics as those used in Paris last year.
4:00 p.m.: President Obama makes a pledge
President Barack Obama pledged to “do whatever is necessary” to help Belgian authorities seek justice for the more than two dozen people who were killed Tuesday in explosions at the Brussels airport and the subway system.
“We stand in solidarity with them in condemning these outrageous attacks against innocent people,” Obama said in Havana, where he was closing a historic three-day visit. He commented on the events in Brussels at the top of a keynote address to the Cuban people.
“We will do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally Belgium in bringing to justice those who are responsible,” Obama said. He said America’s thoughts and prayers are with the people of Belgium.
Obama said Tuesday’s attacks provided yet another reminder “that the world must unite,” regardless of nationality, race or faith in “fighting against the scourge of terrorism.”
4:05 p.m.: ISIS takes credit, Paris connection
An Iraqi intelligence official says sources in the Syrian city of Raqqa have told them that the Islamic State group has been planning terrorist attacks in Europe for two months which would “target airports and train stations.”
The official tells The Associated Press on Tuesday that Iraqi officials told European countries about the plans “but Brussels was not part of the plans” at the time.
He says IS militants changed the operation and moved it to Brussels “because of the detention of Salah Abdeslam” – the Paris attacks suspect arrested Friday in Brussels.
Another senior Iraqi intelligence official said “Daesh (IS) was behind this operation and it was planned in Raqqa two months ago and there are three suicide attackers who will carry out another attack.”
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity since the investigation was ongoing.
4:25 p.m.: Brussels begins to move again
People can start moving around Brussels once more after being told to stay in place for hours after bombing attacks Tuesday morning at the airport and on a subway station.
Peter Mertens of the Belgian crisis center says “the threat is still real and serious” of more attacks.
But he says air traffic at Brussels’ Zaventem airport “remains closed for the day under any circumstance” but people in the Belgian capital can start walking outside again and train stations are reopening.
6:20 p.m.: Search for suspects
Federal police in Belgium have issued a wanted notice for a suspect in the Brussels airport bombing that they are still trying to identify.
A man wearing a thick light-colored jacket with a black hat and glasses is suspected of committing an attack at Zaventem airport on Tuesday morning.
They are urging the public to call them if they recognize the man.
8:20 p.m.: Show of solidarity
Some of Europe’s best-known monuments have been illuminated with Belgium’s national colors in a show of solidarity after the attacks in Brussels.
At nightfall Tuesday, the Eiffel Tower in Paris lit up in the black, yellow and red colors of the Belgian flag.
Berlin’s landmark Brandenburg Gate, which after the November attacks in Paris was illuminated with the French colors of red, white and blue, also was lit up in Belgian colors. A few blocks away, some people laid flowers and lit candles outside the Belgian Embassy.
And in Italy, Rome’s Trevi Fountain joined in the show of Belgium’s national colors.