UPDATE: Terror attack death toll rises to 34 and 200 injured
Police have increased patrols at transport hubs across the UK following this morning's terrorist attacks in Brussels as the death toll rose to 34.
Dozens of people have been killed and many injured following explosions at the airport and a metro station in the Belgium capital.
Mark Rowley, leading Counter Terrorism for National Police Chiefs’ Council today said: “Our thoughts are with the people of Brussels following this morning’s horrific attacks.
“As a precaution forces across the UK have increased policing presence at key locations, including transport hubs, to protect the public and provide reassurance. This is not in relation to any specific information or intelligence.
“The threat to the UK from international terrorism remains at severe as it has been since August 2014, meaning an attack is highly likely.”
He added: “In London specifically, the Metropolitan Police Service has mobilised additional officers, who will carry out highly visible patrols at key locations around the Capital including the transport network. The number of officers deployed will be regularly assessed. These additional officers are deployed as part of reassurance measures.
“The police presence across London and the rest of the UK is constantly under review
“We are in close liaison with the Belgium authorities and will continue to monitor the situation.”
The public is being urged to be “alert but not alarmed” and report anything suspicious to the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321. In an emergency always call 999.”
A father-of-three on a work trip to Brussels has spoken of his shock and horror following the terror attack on the Belgian capital.
Anthony Barrett, 50, was in his room in the Sheraton Brussels Airport Hotel when a blast ripped through an airport terminal opposite.
The 50-year-old reported hearing two loud bangs which shook the building before looking out of his window to see people running for their lives.
Mr Barrett, who works for the Wales Audit Office and is in Belgium for a work conference, said: “I feel sick and upset by what has happened.
“I was in my room when I heard two loud crumps, it felt like there was furniture being moved in the room above me.
“I looked at the window and could see people fleeing the terminal building.
“Police began evacuating the airport and there were multiple casualties. At one point, I counted 22 people being stretchered into ambulances.”
Mr Barrett, who lives in Lymn in Cheshire, said the hotel was turned into a makeshift casualty centre before further drama unfolded.
He added: “I could see armed police were taking cover behind a number of parked cars. I don’t know if they had a suspect cornered.
“The hotel is directly opposite the terminal building. The police have had sniffer dogs in here before the building has been turned into an evacuation and casualty centre.”
UKIP Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall spoke of his outrage over the explosions at Brussels Zaventem airport.
“This is an appalling attack, killing and maiming innocent people just going about their business. My heart goes out to the victims and their families and I hope that those involved, directly and indirectly, in causing this horrendous incident are quickly brought to justice.
“These incidents highlight the dangerous times in which we live but we must not be cowed down by these attacks on our society,” said Mr Nuttall, North West MEP speaking from the European Parliament building in Brussels.
Manchester Airport tweeted: In response to this morning’s events at Brussels Airport, the police presence has been increased in landside areas at Manchester Airport.
At least 34 people were killed and 200 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.”
Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders warned: “We fear that people are still at large.”
David Cameron hit out at “inappropriate” attempts to link the terror attacks to the debate on Britain’s future in the EU, adding that the countries of Europe need to “stand together against these appalling terrorists and make sure they can never win”.
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:
Broadcaster RTBF reported 20 people were killed following the explosion at Maelbeek metro station, while 14 died in a suicide attack at the airport
The number of injured people in both attacks is believed to be 200.
Downing Street said one British national is known to have been injured at the airport.
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.
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 said: “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.”
Speaking to reporters in Whitehall, Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who used to live in Brussels, said Britain “must show maximum possible solidarity with the people of Brussels and Belgium”.