“The darkest day”: Brussels after the terrorist attacks in eyewitness accounts

Police near the metro station in Brussels, where an explosion occurred

Arkady Sokoloski, an independent journalist in Belgium

I’m sitting in the office, which is on the road back from town to the airport. Even before they announced what had happened, the attacks were heard the sirens of ambulances and it became clear that something had happened. Near the Brussels airport is the headquarters of NATO. The second attack was at the metro station Malbec, and the next stop is Schuman: there are all the institutions of the European Union. Now the metro is closed, schools call parents asking to take the children home. People now prefer not to use public transport. The terrorist threat level is raised from third to fourth.

It struck me that until now in the hall of departure and arrival Brussels international airport you can go without any check: a scanner. A few months ago after the terrorist attacks in Paris, when it became clear that the coordinates of the groups are here, the army took to the streets of the city and patrolled them. But the part at the airport, for example, did not appear.

Nadezhda Baykova, teacher of the Russian language

Today I did not go home, to the station Schuman (following the one where the bomb exploded). There’s always safe in the vicinity – near the building of the European Commission and the sea is always the military. But today it became clear that safer, it seems, in Molenbeek (a suburb of Brussels, which the Minister of internal Affairs of Belgium Jan Jambon called “political capital of Islam in continental Europe”). The city announced the fourth level of threats, it is recommended to stay at home. We all have experienced after the terrorist attacks in Paris – then shops, schools and universities were closed, work was canceled, the transport did not work. But then it was just a threat, but now everything’s really going on. While school and work do not cancel, but apparently, the information is only beginning to reach people. It is very difficult for anyone to get through, lines are overloaded, difficult to break even via Skype.

Ivan Volodin, a diplomat

At the moment there were two terrorist attack. One at the airport (double explosion), the second – in the subway, on the train at the station Malbec. Reports of the shootout on the Sablon and about the explosions at the other stations are not confirmed. Station Schuman, Malbec and Ar-Lua are on the same line, a five minute walk from one another. Therefore, when the explosion occurred on the Malbec, the next station immediately evacuated and closed. Eyewitnesses at the Schumann and Ar-Lua agreed that the explosions occurred at those stations.

Brussels airport is closed until at least 6am tomorrow. The collapse of the flights did not happen, as the majority of the flights – a message from the nearest Europe and they just canceled. About 15-20 aircraft landed at nearby airports (Antwerp, Charleroi, Liege, Amsterdam). In Brussels halted all public transport, including trains railway. Evacuated important public buildings. Blocked traffic on some main streets. It is not clear how people, including thousands of EU officials will be in the evening to get home. Closed metro station in Charleroi and the train station in Antwerp. Intercity buses in Brussels are not going.

I am in the kilometer from the station Malbec, and the view from the office window is the most common. On the nearest street no traffic jams, excavator for road works works as usual.

Anastasia Cebulak, a student:

At the moment of explosion I was at home. On TV announced the fourth degree of threat is the highest. All recommended to stay home, mass actions are cancelled, blocked the road to the airport, all metro stations in Brussels are closed, also closed shops. I did not go to University, and at the moment students are evacuated from the library, and students from schools. At my University now discuss the decision to cancel classes: in the news said that the classes need to be cancelled, but the University decision has yet to be adopted. Outside the window, heard continuous sirens of ambulance, police and fire.

Mary weaver, lives an hour and a half drive from Brussels airport (G. Zoetendal)

I have learned everything from the news, everybody is in panic, everyone watches TV. In the news they say that Brussels is partially closed, blocked the road. The news about the attack, opened a hotline, anyone can not get through because all lines are busy. On TV asking everyone to refrain from traveling to Brussels.

Alexey Kozlov, the editor of the portal Article20.org (arrived in Brussels for a conference which was cancelled because of terrorist attacks)

Now I am in a hotel near the Trone metro station is a few blocks from the metro station where the blast occurred. The terrorist attack at the airport learned on television: on the Breakfast broadcast news, and was a direct inclusion from the airport. The authorities appealed to the citizens not to leave their homes, not to go out without having stopped the work of all public transport, but private vehicles moving with the usual Brussels intensity. The only difference is that it’s constantly speeding ambulances and police with sirens, over the city fly helicopters.
Now it is difficult to leave the city: in the media it is reported that North station is closed, supporting rail and bus service. The car is the only means of transportation around the city.

Julia, a student at the free University of Brussels

Classes after the attacks canceled. Traffic is suspended and I can’t get home. The University administration has asked students to call and write SMS – overloaded telephone network.

Christina Scorpionov, lives and works in Brussels

On the TV show the horrific footage from the airport. The authorities have already called on March 22, the most black day for Belgium after the second world war. The city virtually paralyzed, completely covered: borders are closed, transport does not walk, in particular – stopped trains until further notice and closed the airport until at least the morning. Local schools are asked to pick up the kids. Authorities are asking residents to stay home, not go out and not to use mobile phones.

Matthew David, Director of marketing at Total in Brussels

During the explosion I was at a meeting out of town and now can’t get in Brussels, the city canceled all message, no trains. On TV talk about the evacuation from the airport, I advise you not to go outside. All while trying to figure out if their friends and family.

Julie de Meyer, Manager of the company Wooclap

Dвели the fourth danger level, the highest possible. In my office nobody works, everyone crowded around the TV. Officials said that as soon as possible, all employees will be transported home. In the centre is forbidden, even just to walk the streets, all empty, only a range of the commandos.

Photo gallery
Explosions in Brussels



On the morning of 22 March in the Belgian capital was rocked by several explosions. The first two explosions occurred at around 8am local time at Brussels airport. According to preliminary information…

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