Several killed as blasts rock Brussels airport (Third Lead)

Brussels, March 22 (IANS) Several people were killed on Tuesday when two massive explosions devastated the departure area of the Zaventem airport in the Belgian capital, triggering panic.

The Belgian fire service told local media there were at least several dead and wounded in the blasts which were centred at the American Airlines check-in desk, BBC reported.

Belga news agency reported that shots were fired and shouts in Arabic were heard before the two blasts, BBC said.

The airport was hurriedly evacuated and had been closed for flights, BBC said.

Pictures showed the terminal windows blown out from the force of the explosion and smoke rising high into the sky. Video also showed terrified passengers running for their lives out of the terminal.

Sky News Middle East correspondent Alex Rossi, who was at the airport on his way to Tel Aviv, said: “I could feel the buildings move.”

The incident came as the Belgian capital was on a state of high alert following the arrest of Paris terror attack suspect Salah Abdeslam in the city last week.

Only on Monday, Belgium’s Interior Minister Jan Jambon said the country was braced for a possible revenge attack following the capture of the 26-year-old Abdeslam.

CNN quoted a tourist, Anthony Barrett, as saying he heard the explosions at about 8 a.m. from his hotel across the terminal building.

“When I opened the curtains and looked out, I could see people feeling,” he told CNN.

He said he saw about 19 or 20 stretchers carrying people so far. Luggage trolleys were also being used to transport the wounded.

“It is clearly a very serious incident,” Barrett said.

The Brussels airport said that there had been two explosions and the building was being evacuated. “Don’t come to the airport area,” it said.

France is seeking Abdeslam’s extradition so he can stand trial for his alleged role in the November 13 rampage of gunfire and suicide bombings that killed 130 people in Paris.

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