Brussels explosions: Devastation and chaos after attacks

Eyewitnesses give their accounts of the explosions at Brussels Airport and an underground station in the centre of the Belgian capital.

Brussels Airport

"I jumped on top of my partner and covered us with our suitcase"

Image copyright Horst Pilger

James Firkin was waiting to check in at the airport when the attacks took place.

"We're in shock. Miraculously I don't know how we're not physically hurt. I went to get a tea for my partner and it was at that moment that the first explosion happened...

"The ceiling was falling in, there was debris falling all around us. General panic would be the best way to describe it.

"I jumped on top of my partner and covered us with our suitcase to protect us from the falling ceiling.

"We were afraid there would be shooting, but that didn't happen at all... I didn't here any shots... I personally didn't hear any shouting in Arabic where we were, near the check in row 8.

"There was no doubt in our minds that it was a bomb. The main thing that stuck in my head was the smoke. It smelt like fireworks... it definitely seemed like a bomb straight away."

"The ceiling collapsed behind us"

Horst Pilger was at a Starbucks in the airport after checking in with his wife and two children for their flight to Rome.

"Around 8am we heard a bang - my wife and I looked at each other thinking 'What was that?' Then there was another blast which was much louder.

"I saw a fireball coming from the car park outside. Then the ceiling collapsed behind us, which was about 30 metres away. There was dust everywhere and it was difficult to breathe.

"People were screaming and panicking.

"We decided to go across the street to the Sheraton Hotel. I saw injured people being treated."

"I saw a soldier pulling away a body. I hope he was not dead"

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Media captionBrussels airport worker: 'My colleague hid in the luggage carousel'

Tom, who is doing an internship at the airport, started his day at 08:00 local time:

"We were going to our desks, to the gate, and we looked to our left side and it looked like 15 metres from us was a big explosion. First we thought it was a billboard falling down or something. My colleague was looking and was wondering what is it, and I said 'Run, run'. We ran away; we were running very quickly...

"My colleague jumped into the carousel behind the check-in desk. I lost him because I did not know where he was.

"Then it was like a big explosion, a second one...

"I thought I was hurt or I was hit. Then there were two people who were working at the airport. They told me to come inside and locked the door.

"And behind the little gap I saw a solider pulling away a body. I hope he was not dead and just hit... I am feeling overwhelmed."

'Everyone was screaming and running... I'm still shaking'

Nils Liedtke, who was in the airport when the explosions took place, described the scene to BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"It was basically like a big bang - it felt like your neighbours upstairs are throwing something big on the floor.

"And everything was shaking, some smoke.

"It took me a second or two to realise what was going on. Everybody was screaming and running out into the taxi area, so that's what I did as well... I'm still shaking."

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In pictures: Brussels explosions

"We saw lots of injured people"

Odeta Islam, from Antwerp, was in Brussels Airport this morning, dropping her mother off.

"We were sitting and having breakfast and we heard a huge blast on our right. Everyone started running. Then we heard a second blast from our left.

"There was mess everywhere and the smell of burning and smoke. There was a lot of dust and we had problems breathing so we headed to the exit.

"We saw lots of injured people.

"I saw a mum and her children injured and I offered to help her but she told me to go and get out as she was being looked after. I am a certified first aider and as soon as we got out my brother and I offered to help but by then there were ambulances and they told us they were ok.

"We were outside for a while and then we had to wait at the car park. Eventually we were allowed to leave and we are now home safe in Antwerp."

"I heard one shot fired, then someone shouted some words in Arabic"

One man who had been inside the airport told the BBC: "I heard two explosions and then the ceiling fell on us.

"I saw a woman going down the escalator - her leg was bleeding because of the shattered glass.

"I heard one shot fired, then someone shouted some words in Arabic, followed by a huge explosion. And then people started to flee towards the lifts and escalators."

"There were lots of people on the ground"

Image copyright Martine Roegies
Image caption This photograph of the aftermath of the Brussels airport attack was taken by Martine Roegies, who preferred not to speak about the experience

Jef Versele, 40, from Ghent, told the Press Association: "I was on my way to check in and two bombs went off - two explosions.

"I didn't see anything. Everything was coming down. Glassware. It was chaos. It was unbelievable. It was the worst thing. People were running away. There were lots of people on the ground. A lot of people are injured.

"The bomb was coming from downstairs. It was going up through the roof. It was big.

"About 15 windows were just blown out from the entrance hall."

"My hearing will be damaged"

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Media captionEyewitnesses at Brussels airport describe the moment the blast hit.

David Crunelle, from Brussels, told the BBC: "While dropping off my luggage two explosions happened right next to me. Two or three seconds between the two explosions.

"They happened in the departure (area) for international flights... My hearing will be damaged because of the sound of the explosions.

"I've seen many people injured around me, including children - really, really injured and covered in blood, people outside on the floor. So I'm really lucky."

Maelbeek metro station

Watch: Passengers are evacuated from Brussels metro station following blast

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Media captionPeople left the Brussels metro following the explosion

"People were running out of the station covered in blood"

Darren Hayes, from London, is staying on the Rue Philippe Le Bon, Brussels - near Maalbeek metro station.

"My partner lives in Brussels. I am visiting for the week. I went to the market this morning and passed Maalbeek station as it happened. People were running out of the station covered in blood and injured.

"There was chaos.

"I was told to get indoors and stay there. At one stage I heard lots of people shouting very loudly, and then some people grabbed the injured and ran further away from the station down the side streets where I am.

"Now I am in the flat and they have cordoned off the area."

"We felt a blast of air and my ears popped"

Image copyright David Hayes
Image caption View from a flat near Maalbeek metro

Evan Lamos was travelling towards Maelbeek when the metro train he was on was evacuated.

"We felt a small blast of air and my ears popped. The blast of air was not that big, it was something similar to if you stood in front of a fan.

"The metro immediately stopped, the lights turned off, the engine turned off. And a message came over the intercom saying there had been a disturbance on the line, and they were working to resolve it. That continued for about three or four minutes.

"There was a lot of apprehension and nervousness - I think a lot of people were reading about the news of the explosions at the airport.... then someone came from the front of the metro to the back, and opened up the door, installed a ladder and started evacuating people."

"The glass doors were blown out"

One witness told Belgian broadcaster RTBF: "We left Maelbeek station towards the centre at around 09:07 or 09:10 when we felt an explosion which appeared to come from the front of the train.

"The lights went off, there was panic given what happened at Brussels Airport.

"The doors of the train were forced open to get off the train. There was a lot of smoke. We left via Maelbeek station. The glass doors were blown out. The explosion must have been violent."

"We have numbers of policemen with AK-47 style weapons"

Steven Woolfe, an English MEP for the UK Independence Party, was in an office near the underground station.

"I heard a very loud bang that was like a car exhaust exploding. The building shook a little bit. As we opened the door you could start hearing car horns going off and see people moving away from the metro. Within a short period of time the police were on the ground in their distinctive uniforms, ushering people away.

"There were a couple of people with cameras trying to take photos but the police were firm in pushing them away.

"Here in the parliament area we have numbers of policemen with AK-47 style weapons."

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