Passengers relive Brussels airport terror

24th March 2016, Comments 0 comments

Two days after surviving Belgium's worst terror attacks, Roger Ramazani on Thursday finally walked away from Brussels airport with his bags.

On Tuesday he had been in the terminal building, holding his boarding pass for a flight to Kinshasa when two bombs exploded in the departure hall at Zaventem, killing at least 11 people.

Returning to the scene of the horror for the first time, he recalls how amid the smoke and chaos, suddenly everyone was lying on the ground. But then a woman started ushering people out of an open door to safety.

"Two days after and it's starting to get better. But I confess it wasn't easy the first and second day," he said. "Today, I'm accepting it. And life goes on."

Ramazani, from a Brussels suburb, was among thousands of passengers at the centre of the deadly attacks, dozens of whom returned to the airport on Thursday to collect backpacks, suitcases and folded prams.

In a vast, chilly cargo hangar, the travellers -- some of whom have been stranded by the airport's closure -- walked among neat rows of more than 5,000 bags, looking for the one with their name on it.

"It's the first step toward re-establishing activity," Florence Muls, a Brussels airlines spokeswoman said. "There are many steps to take before normal life resumes."

Zaventem airport, which on average sees 600 flights a day and employs 20,000 people, will stay closed to passengers until at least Sunday following the blasts.

Another 20 people died after another explosion in a Brussels metro train just minutes from some of the European Union's biggest institutions in the Belgian capital.

- 'Crying a lot' -

Belgian authorities are still searching for a third assailant who left his bomb-filled bag at the airport before fleeing the scene, and are hunting a second metro suspect.

The people able to pick up their luggage on Thursday were the fortunate ones, their bags were in the cargo holds of the planes when the bombs went off.

Those inside the terminal will remain there because the area is still closed to the public and workers due to the ongoing investigation into the attacks.

German national Michel Mazylis, 65, who was also there to get his bags back, had looked out of the window of the plane that brought him to Brussels, saw black smoke pouring out of the terminal and felt a jolt of fear.

"Smoke, only black smoke," he said. "And then we went inside in the hall from the plane... and then we saw all the people running and we don't know what just happened."

Luc Boonen said his flight was stuck on the tarmac for nearly an hour before he and his wife learned the news.

"Then we got the information from the pilot, 'OK, there is a bomb'," he said, holding his luggage in his hands. "Then you go in shock."

The 52-year-old, from the Brussels area, said he had managed to bounce back from his brush with tragedy -- noting that he was lucky not to see the worst of the carnage.

But he said his wife was still recovering.

"She don't sleep," he said. "She is crying a lot."


© 2016 AFP

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