American Aid Workers Describe Horror of Brussels Airport Blast: 'It Reverberated Through Our Entire Bodies'
At least 28 people were killed in a Brussels
An American couple caught in the middle of the Brussels airport bombings have spoken out about their terrifying ordeal.
Arizona residents Andrew and Denise Brandt, who work for aid agency Jhpiego Health Services, were catching a connecting flight to Liberia on Thai Airlines when the two explosions rocked the departure hall of Brussels Zaventem Airport. At least 13 were killed and dozens more injured, according to local media.
At least one of the explosions was near the American Airlines departures desk.
“You just feel like a wave from the explosion,” Andrew Brandt told Sky News while draped in a blanket outside the airport terminal building. “Like a wave moving through your body.
“They said it happened in check-in. We were in Terminal B in the gift shop area, transferring from another airline, thank God,” Andrew said.
Denise Brandt, who is Country Director and Chief of Party for Jhpiego in Liberia, added: “I knew it was an explosion because I have been near explosions before. I have felt explosions before and the way they feel throughout your body.”
She continued, “We kind of looked at each other and I was like ‘Let’s go this way’ because it was over there [she pointed], and there was just this instinct to get away from it. Then we started to see people running, crying towards us, so I knew that we were going in the right direction and away from it.”
Asked how close the explosions were, Denise Brandt responded: “Too close!”
“It felt muffled, so I knew that we were not really close to it but that we were close enough that it reverberated through our entire bodies.”
Other witnesses have described the scene of terror that unfolded early Tuesday morning, which has sent Brussels into total lockdown. All rail transport to the airport has now been halted and all flights diverted. Eurostar has cancelled all trains to and from Brussels.
Two explosions went off at the airport, followed by a second attack at the Maalbeek Metro Station near the headquarters of the European Union, killing at least 15 more, according to local officials. The attacks closely follow the anti-terror raids and arrest of Paris terror suspect Salah Abdeslam on Friday.
Zach Mouzoun, who arrived in Brussels on a flight from Geneva, told France’s BFM television: “It was atrocious. The ceilings collapsed. There was blood everywhere, injured people, bags everywhere. We were walking in the debris. It was a war scene.”
An un-named Swiss airport worker also confirmed that the bombs exploded close to the American Airlines check-in desk. He did not see any suicide bombers and believes that the bombs were stored in bags.
“I started work at 8 a.m. with my colleague,” the worker told the BBC. “We were going to our desks, going to the gate. We look to our left and 50 meters from us was a big explosion. First we thought it was a billboard falling down or something. My colleague was looking and wondering ‘What was it?’ and I said ‘Run, run!’ ”
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He continued, “We run away very quickly. My colleague jumped into the carousel behind the check-in desks and I lost him because I didn’t know where he was. It was like 20 centimeters of me was a big explosion, the second one. A big explosion.”
“I just fell a bit away. I thought I was hurt. I was hit,” the employee shared. “Then there were two people working on the airport they told me to come inside, to lock the a little door. Behind a little gap in the door I saw a soldier pulling away a body. I hope he was not dead and just hit.”
Marc Noel, 63, who was buying car magazines before a flight to Atlanta when the first explosion occurred about 50 yards away, told the Associated Press: “People were crying, shouting, children. It was a horrible experience.”