As Belgium’s flag is illuminated upon great landmarks across Europe in shows of solidarity, information about the Brussels attacks victims emerges 24 hours after the deadly attacks rocked Brussels’ airport and a busy metro station in the early hours of Tuesday.
So far, the death toll stands at 34 — a number that may rise, with nearly 200 injured and ten in critical condition — but confirmation of the identities of those who perished in the horrific Brussels attacks trickles slowly through international authorities. Some Brussels attacks victims’ information has come to light in the recent hours, with the first of the dead formally identified and an American teen’s unlikely misfortune of being present at two terror attacks in his short life— and, luckily, surviving both.
So far, we know this much: two blasts erupted in Brussels’ Zevantem airport at approximately 8:30 A.M. local time — suspected to be suicide bomb attacks — followed by another bombing attack in the busy Maalbeek metro station an hour later. Telegraph UK reports that eyewitnesses said the first of the attacks took place at an excess baggage payment area, followed by the second blast near a Starbucks cafe. So far, Brussels and other security agencies across the continent have responded swiftly and seriously, bracing for further attacks and raising their terror threat levels to the highest level at which attacks are “serious and imminent”.
“Belgian firefighters say that at least 34 people have died after the airport blasts, prompting Belgium to raise its terror status to the highest level, diverting trains and ordering the country’s citizens to stay where they are,” reports Telegraph UK.
In the wake of the Brussels attacks, Prime Minister Charles Michel has confirmed that “dozens” have been killed in the bombings, and local media report that at least ten of the dead were killed in the Maelbeek metro station blast. Michel has also condemned the Brussels attacks and offered condolences to the victims as information about their identities emerges.
I strongly condemn these hateful attacks. Our thoughts go out to the victims and their families. We stand united against terrorism.— Charles Michel (@CharlesMichel) March 22, 2016
So far, the information about the Brussels attacks victims is limited, but the first of the attacks’ victims has been named as a 37-year-old Peruvian mother of twins, Adelma Tapia Ruiz, who was killed at Brussels’ Zevantem Airport.
3-year-old twin girls lose their mother in Brussels bombing; attack’s first confirmed victim https://t.co/akkWB0b5Tf— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 23, 2016
Ruiz was on her way home to visit her family when the airport attacks took place and claimed her life.
A group of Mormon missionaries from Utah who were visiting Brussels were also victims of the attacks, but they were lucky enough to escape with injuries. As information about these Brussels attacks victims emerges, we know that one of them is 19-year-old Sandy, Utah native Mason Wells, who suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon, shrapnel injuries, and burns in the Brussels attacks at Zevantem airport, according to UK Telegraph.
“Wells [was] standing within feet of a bomb that exploded at the Belgian airport,” says the Telegraph.“Three years ago, Mr Wells and his father felt the ground shake and narrowly escaped death from an April 2013 attack in the US, when a pressure-cooker bomb exploded a block away from where they were watching his mother run the Boston Marathon.”
His father, Chad Wells, told Telegraph that he hopes after the Brussels attacks, his son has “run his lifelong odds” and no further harm from terrorist attacks will come to him.
“I think it will make him a stronger person… Maybe the Boston experience was there to help him get through this experience,” said Wells to Telegraph of his son’s presence at the Brussels attacks and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
7 News reports that ISIL has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Authorities have also released the identity of a fugitive suspect — an IS bomb-maker — in the Brussels attacks: Najim Laachraoui, who was an accomplice of Paris attacks figurehead Salah Abdesalem, according to 7 News.
Interpol is likely to be deployed in search of Laachraoui immediately. Meanwhile, the world looks on with sympathy and grief for Brussels in the wake of the attacks as information emerges about the Brussels attacks victims.
[Photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP]