Australian exchange student, Mia Egerton-Warburton has described the ‘devastating situation’ in Brussels following the terror attacks.
Speaking with news.com.au, the 20-year-old University of Western Australia student was travelling with three female friends when Brussels was rocked by multiple explosions at the airport and metro station during the Tuesday morning rush hour.
Mia is on an exchange program with Leeds University and was travelling for the Easter break.
“We are pretty in the dark in regards to travel and whether our train out of Belgium will run tomorrow,” she told news.com.au. “We are staying safe and well informed though, and just devastated that this situation is happening to such a beautiful city.”
Mia said the group of four is staying at an Airbnb apartment, located a 20-minute walk from the metro explosion. They were initially advised for safety reasons to stay indoors and informed that all public transport had been shut down.
“All our families are pretty panicked, basically telling us to get out of Belgium,” she said.
At least 34 people are feared dead with 130 injured from the blasts.
Coming four days after the arrest of Paris terror suspect Salah Abdeslam, Islamic State supporters have claimed responsibility and publicly celebrated the attack online.
The city is still in lockdown and all flights and trains have been cancelled. The terror threat has been raised to a maximum level 4 and leaders in other European capitals have also stepped up security.
Mia said the Australian embassy has sent the group “some very general information on the transport closures” but at this stage, they are unsure if transport will be up and running by Wednesday.
“None of us have European SIM cards, therefore we have had to contact family members via Facebook,” she said.
Mia said their little group had ventured outside briefly and shared that local people appeared to be returning to work, with shops slowly reopening.
“It’s nice to see a few people out and about, and shops open. We just ventured out to see what’s going on, and people seem to be working. Crowds have started to form around a beautiful building, laying flowers and memorials for the people that have passed away. Messages of anti-terrorism and unity are also being drawn on the ground in chalk. It was really comforting to see that,” she said.
“We’re feeling a bit shocked, confused and wary of possible further attacks. To give you an insight into how tense it is, a car alarm just went off in the street outside our room and literally everyone was looking out their windows. People stopped walking.”
Australian travellers are being warned not to travel to Belgium following the terror attack on Brussels.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a statement the Australian Government condemned what appeared to be co-ordinated terror attacks in Brussels.
“Our thoughts and sympathies are with the people of Belgium,” she said from Indonesia. “I have spoken with our Ambassador Mark Higgie for an assessment of the situation and to confirm that our diplomatic staff are safe,” Ms Bishop said.
Any Australians who had concerns for the welfare of family and friends in the region should contact DFAT’s 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre is 1300 555 135 or +61 2 6261 3305 if calling from overseas.
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