The Brussels airport partially reopened on Sunday, almost two weeks after suicide bombings claimed by Islamic State left 16 people dead at the check-in area. More others were injured in a different attack in a Brussels metro station that same day and at least 270 people were wounded in both attacks combined, many of whom remain hospitalized.
Passenger flights operated by Brussels Airlines left Zaventem airport, bound for Turin in Italy, Athens and Faro in Portugal. Arnaud Feist, the CEO of Brussels Airport Company, expressed that these flights marked the first “hopeful sign” from an airport that was standing up straight following the terrorist attack, as reported by The Atlantic.
A newly-built temporary check-in area was designed after the blasts and airport officials recommend passengers to arrive at least three hours before their respective flights. Feist told reporters that the number of flights will increase in the coming days but some foreign airlines have announced they would wait for weeks or months until they return to the airport due to security concerns.
Normal operations at the Brussels airport should begin by the end of June. Officials said it could take months to repair the damage caused by the bombings.
Maelbeek station, where the attack took place, remains closed but the Brussels metro system reopened last weekend.
Commuters, students, and travelers ranging in age from 20 to 60 were among the victims of the blasts. Some came from the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and China. About half were Belgian citizens. No official list of the victims has been released but the Associated Press and other agencies have published stories told by their friends and relatives.
Belgian authorities still investigating as the threat remains high
Three attackers were killed in the blasts. Police have detained several suspects and are still conducting raids across Belgium. The threat of an attack remains high, as the country’s terror alert level was lowered from four – the highest level – to three. More Belgians have joined ISIS compared to any other Western nation since the country seems to be the favorite home to Islamist radicals.
French and Belgian police are investigating whether the Paris and Brussels attacks are related and no official details have been released on the matter, but Belgian prosecutors announced last week that one of the airport attackers, Najim Laachraoui, was linked to Salah Abdeslam, who was behind the plot of the Paris attacks. Belgian police captured Abdeslam, a Belgian native just like Laachraoui, in Brussels a few days before the attacks on the city.
Source: The Atlantic