tv America This Morning ABC March 22, 2016 4:00am-4:31am PDT
special report from abc news. good morning, america. at least three explosions rocked the capital of brussels this morning. a suicide bomber reportedly targets the crowded airport. >> there were explosions in the main building. >> ceilings collapsing. running for their lives. another blast rocks a metro station. just days after a major suspect in the paris terror attacks is arrested. americans in europe told to shelter in place. nypd set to ramp up security here in new york. the hunt is on right now for who's behind these blasts. >> announcer: live in times square, this is "good morning america."
>> good morning, we are live all across the country and all time zones for the latest on those terror attacks unfolded in brussels, belgium, at 3:00 a.m. eastern time during their morning rush hour. this is the scene as it unfolded, terrified passengers running for their lives at the airport. and this photo here shows the damage. at least two different attacks across the city this morning. >> here's what we know right now. it is changing. at least two explosions hit that airport. another rocked a metro station at least 28 people now killed. dozens injured. all airport and public transportation in brussels now shut down and the terror level there raised to maximum. the u.s. embassy advising americans in brussels to shelter there in place. >> alert levels raised here in new york as well and other american cities, we have full coverage right now. we'll begin with alex marquardt, he is on the scene at the brussels airport with the latest. good morning, alex. >> reporter: good morning, george.
dramatic scenes here at the brussels zaventem airport. the edge of the police perimeter told to stop here, passengers talking about scenes of utter pandemonium inside. these two explosions now one of which we understand was from a suicide bomber coming just after 8:00 at the peak of travel time. you can see here there have been thousands of people streaming out from this airport just now a new wave of people with their bags, some clutching those airline blankets that we've all used. they have their bags with them. this is a calm scene here. but you can see their faces are drawn, very serious. there's a lot of confusion, people trying to figure out how to get away from the airport. there are buses lined up taking people away. but the people we spoke to inside describe much more dramatic scenes and spoke to an eyewitness checking into the american airlines counter when the first he can explosion went off about 30 yards away from him. he thought that it took place
closer to the delta counter and that's going to be one of the things experts look into now is whether anything specifically was targeted in the airport but eyewitnesses talking about scenes of utter carnage, bodies on the floor of debris everywhere and ceiling tiles on the floor. absolute chaos. >> okay, alex. the first explosion occurred at 8 a.m. witnesses describe the ceiling caving in blood from the victims. >> it drop down on top of my girl and there was a second explosion. an american girl next to me. >> reporter: at least 13 dead. the number of injured still being counted.
witnesses described it as a war zone. circles in the air, the airplanes. >> thereby explosions in the terminal hall. that's why we don't allow anyone anymore. >> reporter: an explosion at the maelbeek subway station. a loud boom heard and first responders ran through the street with people on stretchers. their clothes badly torn. >> i just stood off the metro when we heard a loud muffled thud. more panic set it. >> reporter: as the belgian capital has been on high alert following the arrest of salah abdeslam last week. you can see these buses pull ago way with people inside. those travelers being taken away from the airport. after that attack at the metro station the entire brussels
metro system shut down. we understand 15 people killed in that attack in addition to 1 here. the entire public transit system across brussels including the airport, metro buses and trains has been shut down. european intelligence officials have been telling us more fronts it was not a question of if but when the next terrorist attack would happen. george. >> okay, alex, thanks very much. alex marquardt at the brussels airport. want to turn to an eyewitness to the attack on the in et tree. zoa, i understand you ran towards the metro when you heard about the explosion. what did you see? >> i saw a scene of probably around about a dozen to 15 people carried out of the metro lying outside the metro entrance an rue de la roi. the actual station itself, maelbeek is just a few hundred meters from the main scene of eu activity, the european
commission and the european council. it's around about 200 meters away from my office. so i was already basically there when i heard there had been attacks on maelbeek and i was running towards it to see what was going on. >> and a scene of chaos and you were able to see the wounded and casualties being taken out. tell us more about this neighborhood. what is around this neighborhood. >> around maelbeek it's really just the heart of the european quarter. the european commission and council nearby, very close within a few hundred meters, it's up fro the shuman metrotation for the european quarter and coast to the parliament. probably around a five to seven-minute walk. those are the three main ones in brussels and close to the arts-loi and the russian embassy around there. several embassies in that
arts-loi area and one stop in the opposite direction from maelbeek from sch uchlt >> zoya sheftolovich, t that report. >> we'll talk to christian pore the latest on security. you're most familiar with what happened in the metro station. what is the latest that you can tell us, sir? >> well, the information that i could gather is the fact that we had an explosion in the metro station called maelbeek. several casualties, we have several people deceased, several people injured. but i don't have exact figures about the casualties yet now. rapidly fire department and medical service and police were deployed on the scene. there is a large security perimeter installed now so that
all those services can work on the scene. >> and the airport as well and what exactly are the services doing there right now, the police force doing right now at this hour? >> well, for the police forces we have the past two protect the medical services working there and also to prevent people from entering the security perimeter so that there is no danger for the medical service and the fire departments to work. >> and, sir, there was no indication about an imminent attack of any sort? >> well, normally terrorist attack, they don't prevent or they don't say on the forehand that they will commit an attack, of course. >> and the heightened alert that you are under now, can you tell us what precautions are being taken? >> well, all public transport is
shut down in brussels. there are no buses, no trams, no metro and the taken stations are also closed in brussels and the people are off to remain inside so that we, the police and security forces can work on the scene. >> all right, mr. deconick, please know our thoughts are with everyone there. thank you for joining us. >> thanks. >> want to go to our chief global affairs anchor martha raddatz in washington. martha, we just heard the brussels police spokesman said they had no indication that this was coming. no specific intelligence but there was a great concern after the takedown of salah abdeslam in brussels earlier this week that that could trigger this kind of a follow-on attack? that's exactly right, george. they feared that there was an attack that was planned and when he was arrested that they might do that attack early because they might have feared that abdeslam would tell authorities something, tell them where it might happen so by all
appearances, this terror attack was carried out quickly, they coordinated very quickly to get this going today. whether airport it was planned for today or whether or not it was planned for several months from now we don't know. there's certainly terror cells operating in europe. belgium by the way is the largest supplier of european countries of foreign fighters in syria and, of course, the fear is always that they will go into syria, they will fight with isis, they will get trained and they will come back out and head for europe to carry out these kinds of attacks. >> martha, one of the biggest concerns this attack was able to be carried out in brussels despite the fact there had been such a heavy police presence, heavy intelligence presence especially in that molenbeek neighborhood where salah abdeslam was found for the four months since these terror attacks in paris. >> reporter: they've been completely focused on this, george. as you know back in november i
was standing in that neighborhood and we were talking about the focus on that neighborhood right after those paris attacks, the city was virtually shut down in lockdown. armored personnel carriers were everywhere on the street. you really couldn't go anywhere without seeing that police presence. now, perhaps there was an attack planned for that time and perhaps they didn't carry it out because of that police presence but what happens is they then go dark. they go under ground and don't communicate with one another in the typical ways by cell phone or by internet. they can go on encrypted devices and can figure out a way to coordinate an attack like this where it will be, go after as we saw in this one those soft targets, i know people don't think of an airport as a soft target but that part of an airport is indeed a soft target. i'm sure as we all know when we go into airports there is security. some sort of security on the outside. don't want you to stop out front in your car but you can get things inside, clearly you can
get things inside. if there was a suicide bomber as is being reported at least one suicide bomber, they will find out how he got in there, where the car was, how they got there, and trace back do the forensics on trying to figure out who this person was, who else carried it out, we don't know whether or how many suspects there were, how many people may have carried this out. whether it was on the tracks there in the subway system, how they got on to those tracks. there are going to be security video coming out and i'm sure we'll get a lot of questions answered. it's very hard to prevent something like this if they want to carry out an attack especially if you're a suicide bomber. >> thanks very much. >> of course, joining us is ray kelly, the former police commissioner here in new york city and also pierre thomas and you know of course, law officials are monitoring what's happening so closely. what are you hearing from the
government? >> top law enforcement officials have been briefed includiing loretta lynch and james comey. no threat to the united states they know of. they don't believe we have the sophisticated terror cells, networks that they have in europe but what they're mosted concern about today is copycats, people who could be inspired by what they're seeing and the fbi monitoring rough ly 24 people. people who have been radicalized online through social media. that is the big concern someone here will react to it here. >> ray kelly in new york city, a lot are waking up, just after 7:00 eastern time. what is going on in the city. >> i think what you're seeing now is deployment of uniformed officers, the officers that started work at midnight, they will be held into the day tour and see that particularly in the subway system. new york has the busiest subway
system arguably in the world, 6 million travel that system every day so you want to increase the uniformed presence. what you probably won't see but may happen is a door knocking campaign. >> what do you mean. >> concerned about -- they want them to know that, hey, we're watching you. how are you doing? that sort of thing. now, that may happen, may not happen. it depends on what the estimate is of fbi and nypd as to whether or not there's anybody with a tendency to be a copycat. >> and new york city -- always on high alert. we're always very vigilant and dill cent and what's going on. >> you had two major attacks here. >> right. >> you had at least 20 terrorist attempts here in new york city. and new york city has responded well and has the unique capacity to put out a lot of uniformed officers on the street. critical response command and overlay of police officers so that's what you'll see deployed
in uniform obviously lots of things going on that you won't be able to see. >> we see more activity here in times square and as you were saying, pierre, what you're alluding to when we see what's going on in europe in recent months and the last year or so, as you're alluding to there has to be a concern why we would not think that that could possibly happen here in the u.s. >> recent history is a guide. think about paris attacks last november. for weeks the united states said, no specific credible threat then san bernardino. that is the concern that you would have, that people would be inspired and then take action then that's hard to determine beforehand. you have to have the intelligence beforehand. that's why you have extend tiff campaign by the fbi looking at social media, looking at people who might be inspired by isis and one thing that's happened in the last six months or so, the fbi went from seeing people who were simply trying to travel to syria and join isis and planning to do things here they believe
they stopped. >> okay, pierre, thanks very much. to jon karl now. traveling with the president in cuba and the president now has been briefed? >> reporter: that's right. the president was briefed well before dawn and, has his national security team with him including national security advisers susan rice, secretary of state john kerry. the state department is also issued a warning through the embassy in brussels to american citizens there that's quite stark, george. it says that american citizens should shelter in place and remind americans in belgium that there was a level 4 threat, a level 4 threat which means a serious and imminent danger -- a danger of a serious and imminent attack so clearly u.s. officials were watching what was happening in belgium and well aware of the danger. now the president has been briefed and has a packed schedule here for the rest of the day including later this morning an address televised nationally in cuba to the cuban people and then he's attending a
baseball game. no indication from the white house that there will be any change to the president's schedule. in fact he's leaving from here to go on to argentina but, of course, as you well know, george, when the president travels on these trips he has his full national security apparatus with him communications and all that. >> full expectation he'll continue the trip, complete the trip he's on right now. one thing we heard from the president in recent months is that this expectation that martha raddatz was talking about that we cannot have perfect security against this kind of threat when people are willing to take matters into their own hands and die in order to kill. >> reporter: the president has been walking a fine line here talking about taking a tough line against this terrorist threat, against isis but also trying to put it in context and saying, that the threat is something that must be contained, must be dealt with, looking at the threat as something that many people frankly in the view of the
president have exaggerated. a very tough argument to make when you have another attack in the heart of europe with dozens more killed but the president's view is that there is no such thing as perfect security that you must contain this threat and deal with it in every way possible but put it in context. >> jon karl, thanks very much. >> we'll go back to alex marquardt. you have been on the scene there in the brussels airport from the very beginning of all this. what is the latest you're hearing now, alex. >> reporter: people continue to stream out of here. there have been travelers coming out for the past four hours. there were thousands of people in that departure hall when the explosions went off. just to give the viewers a sense of where this happened when we say departure hall the area before security before you would go through the x-ray machines and take off your shoes where everybody was checking in. there have been convoys of buses watching them now over here that
keep going past, packed to the brim with people who were either trying to take off or had just landed. it's worth reiterating that all of the air travel has been stopped. no planes going out or coming back in. people are in various states. we've seen lots of emotion, lots of people crying, lots of people hugging. some with blankets wrapped around them. others just confused by what's going on because they weren't able to actually get inside the airport. but what's clear is now these -- the passengers from inside the terminal are being taken away from the airport. we understand that a makeshift hospital has been set up nearby. the latest figure from the belgian prosecutor is that 13 people were killed inside the airport, there are wounded. we don't have the figure on that. at least one of the two explosions was carried out by a suicide bomber. >> 13 there and we're hearing 15 in the metro owe overall at
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welcome back. we continue with our breaking news coverage of the terror attacks that hit brussels, belgium. we can bring you up to speed. two explosions hit the brussels airport around midnight pacific time and then another explosion rocked a metro station in that city, as well. right now the numbers are this, at least 28 people killed,
dozens of others injured. all airport and public transportation in brussels has been shut down and the terror level there raised to maximum. the u.s. embassy is advising any americans in brussels to shelter in place and abc news learned this this country americans can expect increased security at transit and rail stations across the country. at major airports here in new york city, we are already are seeing the increased security around times square but that will take place in other major american city, as well. the entire world is reacting to this breaking news. an attack in brussels, three explosions, at least 28 people dead and dozens of others fighting for tear lives. let's turn to lama hasan in london. what do we know about the attacks specifically? we may not have lama right now. we will see if we can have her join us in a bit.
but we have several reporters on the scene. our alex marquardt is also in brussels. he was there from the very beginning and detailing some of what he saw as the emergency crews rushed to those scenes to help the wounded and saw several people running out in sheer shock understandably so. this attack happened before the security gates so this happened as people were waiting to get those tickets, that area targeted because of the high concentration of people waiting to get on their flights. we have much more to bring you here on "good morning america" and we will bring that to you right after the break, stay with us here at abc news for the very latest on the attack on brussels.
welcome back to "gma." you are looking at the brussels airport. two deadly blasts went off hours ago. one by a suicide bomber. another went off at a metro station. at least three explosions in belgium that rocked the european capital. at least 28 people reported dead and we have team coverage of all the latest right now. >> so we want to go straight to abc's alex marquardt on the scene there at the brussels airport. good morning, again, to you, alex. >> reporter: good morning, robin. that's right. three confirmed explosions by the belgian authorities and belgian prime minister said this morning the country was struck in a cowardly way as we understand it right now the current death toll, 28. 13 here during the -- from the double explosion this morning at the airport. and 15 more from a metro station in the center of brusse