UPDATED: Region’s MEP shocked after being at Brussels metro station shortly before bombing

The scene at Brussels International Airport. PHOTO: PA
The scene at Brussels International Airport. PHOTO: PA

The MEP for our region was in the Metro Station bombed in Brussels shortly before the explosion this morning.

Richard Howitt, Labour MEP for the East of England, tweeted to say he was safely inside the EU building in Brussels, which is in lockdown, but that he was at the bombed Maelbaek Metro station 30 minutes earlier, following two explosions at Brussels airport.

More than 30 people have been killed and more than 150 injured in the two bomb attacks.

This afternoon he said: “I admit I was shaken, having been at the station just minutes before the bomb was detonated. I was actually telephoning my family to try to reassure my own children before they left for school that I was safe after the airport bombs. It is chilling to have been so close to such an awful event.

“This is a deliberate attack not only on the European Union, but on Belgium and on the United States too, and shows none of us can consider ourselves safe and that all of us must stand together in the fight against terrorism.

“I am proud that all of my European colleagues stayed determined to continue with our business, irrespective of politics or nationality.

Richard Howitt MEP

Richard Howitt MEP

“Our response must be to stay calm and to continue as normal, because terrorism must never defeat democracy.”

Two explosions had hit Brussels’ Zaventem airport at 8am local time. Belgium’s health minister has said it killed 11 and injured 81.

An hour later Maelbeek Metro station, close to the EU buildings, was hit by a blast that killed another 20.

“I knew it was an explosion because I’ve been around explosions before,” said Denise Brandt, an American woman interviewed by Sky television.

She added: “I felt the explosion, the way it feels through your body. And we just looked at each other and I said ‘Let’s go this way’. It was over there. There was just this instinct to get away from it. Then we saw people running, crying, toward us. So I knew we were going in the right direction and away from it.”