Reports are coming in from Belgium that at least one of the victims of this morning’s terror attacks is thought to be British.
The identity of the person remains unknown but it is understood that the victim in thought to be injured as opposed to dead.
Speaking to reporters in Whitehall, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “It looks as though there may be one UK casualty, as I’m sure you are aware, though the details of that are very sketchy.
“The most important thing to get across is we know of no reason to think that there is any read across from what’s happened in Brussels to events here in this city.
“We have no intelligence to suggest there is any immediate threat, but as a precaution and for the purposes of reassurance, there has been a stepping up of the presence of police at major airports.”
At least 28 people were killed and many more injured after coordinated bomb attacks on the main airport and the Metro system brought terror to Brussels.
The attacks, condemned as “blind, violent and cowardly” by Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, came after the arrest in the city last week of terror mastermind Salah Abdeslam, who plotted November’s Paris atrocity from the notorious Molenbeek suburb of Brussels.
Responding to the attacks, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said
“We are at war. In Europe we have been subjected to acts of war for several months.”
A suicide bomber struck first near the American Airlines desk at Brussels airport, with local media reporting that shots were fired amid shouting in Arabic.
The explosion on the Metro was near European Union buildings and the US embassy.
As the city went into lockdown:
- Local media said 13 people were killed at the airport
- The Metro explosion killed 15 and injured 55, 10 critically, transport operator STIB said
- Police forces across the UK increased their presence at key locations as a precaution
- Britons in Brussels were advised by the Foreign Office to avoid crowded places and public transport
- David Cameron called a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee and tweeted a message of support, saying: “I am shocked and concerned by the events in Brussels. We will do everything we can to help“
First news of the attacks came when the airport was rocked by a double blast around 7am UK time.
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.”
He added: “People were running away. There were lots of people on the ground. A lot of people are injured.”
Mr Versele was two or three storeys above the source of the explosion but he said many people around him were hurt.
“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,” he added.
The attack on the Metro came about an hour later.
Evan Lamos tweeted a picture of passengers climbing from his train into the tunnel near Maelbeek station, saying: “We are being evacuated from the back of the Metro.
“Smoke in the tunnel as we evacuate.”
The picture was reminiscent of images after the July 7 attacks in London.
Other images showed the injured from the Metro being treated in the street while at the airport people could be seen fleeing in terror in video footage shot from an airport car park.
Footage from inside the airport building showed a scene of devastation with ceiling tiles strewn across the floor and suitcases abandoned.
Responding to the attacks, Prime Minister Michel: “A series of additional security measures have been taken at this moment.
“Military reinforcements have been deployed, reinforcement of border controls and specific restrictions on public transport have been put into place at this time.
“I also would like to say that in this tragic and dark moment for our country, more than ever I call everyone to show calm but also solidarity.
“We are faced with a challenge, a difficult challenge, and we have to face this challenge being united, showing solidarity and being together.”