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tv   America This Morning  ABC  March 22, 2016 4:30am-5:00am EDT

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local media reporting that they will have -- there are reports of anoth er explosion, be possibly at a metro area near the heart of brussels at this hour. of course, we haven't cd that but would go toward the sort of attacks that we've had before with these coordinated terror attacks in paris. >> reporter: it looks like it's bigger than that. i'm looking at reporting from rtf, the belgian public television station. it's like the bbc and they are confirming three explosions at three different subway stations in brussels so that would be in addition to the two at the airport this morning bring it up to a total of five at four different locations, the three subway stations in brussels, they are call maalbeek and schuman which is near the seat of the european union. if these are confirmed then i
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the belgian public tv broadcaster so fairly reliable source that there are -- that locations. >> can you give us a sense of where these locations are throughout the city. geography. large. certainly a lot more concentrated than the paris spread out. all relatively close together, the main airport for the city is just ten miles outside. none far away from each other. the importance you're striking one of the highest security area s then at least two metro stayings that have symbolic locations next to the seat of the belgian government and seat of the european union. these are all not yet confirmed. >> in case some viewers are
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hour you're looking at some scenes right now, the aftermath of the departure terminal we believe at the brussels airport. new video in to us. you can see what impact this blast had, i believe those are like ceiling tiles that have there are injuries reported there but now the breaking news that we're getting right now our alex marquardt is there at the airport in brussels but saying that there are local reports saying there may have been an additional three explosions at metro stations all around this capital. >> three different subway stations is the report that alex was getting from the local broadcaster essentially public broadcaster similar to the bbc of bruls. >> the significance of that you're saying is one of those is located near the eu. one is in the maalbeek area. the third do you think is near the nato headquarters? >> reporter: it's what you were talking about. what the significance of this
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home to these major institutions, the european union, nato and, of course, all of these embassies relatively concentrated in the center of brussels and if these explosions did take place at these metro stations they are highly symbolic symbolic. one is next to the belgian government. another is next to the main building housing the european union and when you add on the explosions we know about at the morning. this would indicate a coordinated attack so hope to be getting more information from the belgian authorities at the top of the hour. there is a lot of confusion. at least one person killed but reports of more as the authorities have sealed off the airport, flights have stopped going out and coming in and we
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departure hall right now. >> you mentioned two explosions happened around 8 a.m. local time and then subsequently we have these reports, unconfirmed of three explosions at three other subway stations or three subway stations in the area, give us a sense of what's going on this time of day in brussels. is this a peek time to be moving and getting to work. a sense of what the city is doing right now. >> yeah, this is 9:30 in the morning right now and so and the explosions the first ones at the airport happened at 8:00 so you really can't get more peak than that. this is when people are taking the first flights out of the city during the day. this is when people are using the metro to go to work. this s is the highest traffic that the city will see. talking about coordinated and
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know, this is the hour that makes the most sense to target. now i'm seeing official word from the brussels metro, the brussels subway system they are shutting down the whole system. all metro stations are closing across brussels. that follows reports of three explosions at three different metro stations in the heart of the capital. very symbolic areas next to the seat of the european union and of the belgian government. >> a big deal, everybody. we're getting these reports of additional explosions. local media reporting them at several metro stations within the city of brussels this coming after those two explosions that took place at the airport roughly about 8:00, i'd say, local time there in brussels. brussels is five hours ahead of us right now because of daylight saving time normally it would be six. so, alex at this point they've shut down the airport.
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station. i could just imagine this is a city that is just in the throes of a lot of angst right now. >> reporter: well, absolutely. imagine in the u.s. in d.c. or philadelphia or new york shutting down the main airport and shutting down the subway station. that would absolutely wreak havoc. i remember about six years ago covering a double suicide bombing in the metro in moscow and the russians only shut down about six stops on the in et tree because they wanted to isolate it and keep everything going. now, europeans are taking a lot more -- would take a lot more and we're seeing it now. the belgians shutting down the entire subway system, a clear indication and confirmation of those three attacks that happened at the three different stations and so right now, the only way to get around this city is by car, by bus, we haven't
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the railway system but when you are shutting down the subway system of a major european city, that means there are strong fears of attacks and possible more attacks to come. >> in the time you've been reporting in brussels with the recent events have you seen anything like this where at any kind of closures like this have occurred or where that would seem to be something that would occur. >> reporter: i'm sorry. >> i was asking in the recent events you've been covering surrounding all these events how unusual is it? maelbeek ? but these quick reactions. not unprecedented but how unusual is it.
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to shut gown the entire airport and not couch it in language that would leave any short of room for any other possibility is a clear indication that they believe that this is terrorism. they -- there have been evacuations of other airports in other european cities like geneva and i was there but they were doused by saying this happens all the time. if you're shutting down the subway system, there's fears of more happening. >> it should be of note. you're familiar with belgium as am i a lot of people travel through the rail system. it's a great rail network and all -- also more importantly it connects to paris and amsterdam and to the netherlands and within just a matter of a couple of hours with the high-speed trains there so they've really targeted an area where they knew
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would cripple the city. >> reporter: absolutely. a good point. everything is close together and suddenly you drive an hour an language. american students are always coming over here and getting their eurorail passes and traveling all over the continent. something people have been doing for years so to a large extent people rely a lot and certainly rely a lot more on trains and -- than the u.s. does. there are, of course, budget airlines that fly all over europe that are very popular, but this is -- these cities are so interconnected and that was one of the problems that we saw in paris, these people were able to slip into paris from other countries unnoticed. under the agreement they have, there are essentially no borders between these european countries, there are checkpoints and sometimes people are stopped but it is very easy to travel
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>> and, alex, just give us a sense of where you are now, what you're seeing, what the scene is there. >> reporter: that was just a convoy. you can probably hear it in my breath. we're on foot. all the roads are empty. the police have set up a perimeter around the airport. no vehicles are being allowed in. but people are being allowed to come and go on foot. we have seen some travelers, some of the thousands who were presumably trying to get out of brussels airport this morning leaving the airport trying to get back out to the highways and i would imagine get a car to go back into brussels. but we are approaching the airport. it is the scene of confusion, there's police tape, lots of sirens and emergency services all around the airport and i would imagine the same scene is playing out now in brussels with the closure of that metro system.
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shut down the entire system and not just the stations that were reported to have been targeted and so right now there's going to be paralysis in the belgian capital. lots of traffic, nothing moving in the metro and a lot of confused and scared people. >> alex, i should mention we're getting word from american airlines, you mentioned one might have taken place in a terminal where american airlines operates out of so the word is right now we are aware of an incident at the brussels airport departure hall and taking care of our customers, employees and contractors. at this time all of our employees and contractors are accounted for with no injuries reported. american airlines flight 751 has been canceled for today. when operations at the airport resume we will recommend -- reaccommodate, rather, our customers so american airlines there addressle flight 751 and many of its passengers and crew members who were likely to be at
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>> of course, 25 minutes ago the brussels airport did tweet that passengers that are still located in other areas of the airport are asked to remain calm and to wait for further information. alex, you mentioned you're seeing many so of these passengers stream out. is it large crowds of passengersy do you get a sense that there's still -- they're still at the airport because those are the pictures we have earlier of large crowds, just kind of floating around trying to figure out where to go or what's going on. some of them emotional talking to authorities. and really it just seems like everybody is still there. what is your sense? >> well, initially it was a trickle but that's because we were further away. now we're closer coming up on what looks like the main perimeter around the airport. a lot more people, a lot more of a police presence and more passengers. i'm looking at a man now clearly wounded, wrapped in a blanket. he has a gash on his leg. it is bloody and so he would be
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of the many wounded at the airport this morning. the scenes we're seeing are not chaotic of they're relatively orderly. people streaming out with their suitcases away from the airport. confused. not knowing where to go and see people getting on to buses who will be taken away from the airport. they were trying to fly at 8:00, 9:00, 10:00 in the morning when most of the early flights of the day are taking off talking about thousands trying to leave this airport who had packed into that departures hall and who are now not able to fly. many wounded and so we are seeing a steady stream, really a river of passengers with their bags leaving the airport trying to figure out where to go. >> our alex marquardt is at the airport in brussels where several have been injured and at least one person is dead but we're also getting this report
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an ap reporter saying several people injured in explosion in brussels metro near the eu offices. the explosions at the metro took place at three different metro stations this morning, one of them, the stations we're told by our producers here located just one stop apart but more importantly, one of them is the exit sean entry point for the european union, alex, so it does appear very much as if this is a coordinated attack this morning. >> reporter: that was the major fear and in the past few months after paris. paris, of course, showed us all that these types of highly coordinated and very deadly attacks can take place under the noses of the police. it had been in the plan -- in the works for a long time and get the authorities were not able to pick up on it. 130 dead at the end of the day at major sites across paris. the fear out of that, intelligence officials in the
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feared more of the same. but not just coordinated attacks within one city but coordinated attacks across cities so when these first explosions happened at 8:00 at the airport this morning, if you're an intelligence official, immediate assumption is going to be where else could this be taking place. we as a news organization we're take place? and on our way walking to the airport, the first reports came out of explosions at the metro. so this does appear to be a coordinated simultaneous attack, targeting the belgian transportation system, the airport airport, zaventem, one of the biggest of brussels referred to as the capital of europe, this is not only a very tactical attack but very symbolic. >> and the terror level going to maximum level in the wake of the airport explosions, now we have the reports of the three more explosions on the three metro
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system closed at this moment. give us another sense of what's going on there. you're seeing the crowds of passengers leaving the airport. you mentioned you saw someone wounded. you said it was a pretty calm scene. not chaotic. are people visibly bway. i would imagine it's pretty jarring and getting word of city. chaotic. i mean that people are not screaming -- running around screaming but there is a thought of concern. you can see it on their face, very drawn, grim faces but orderly. i should highlight that. these explosions happened just under two hours ago and people are still streaming out from the airport by the hundreds. by the thousands. but it is very orderly. people walking very calmly, obviously no smiles on their faces but you don't see too much trauma. there isn't much crying or
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to be trying to figure out now where to go. they can't take their flights out of here and likely hearing of other attacks that are now taking place in brussels. the police are funneling them away from the airport towards an overpass and we're see more and more buses coming to pick them up. >> so, alex, let's -- i'm going to ask to pull up that map once again to show you a sense of where we're talking right now. terror has struck the european capital, you would say, of belgium this morning and it first started around i'd say 3:00 east coast time, 8:00 belgium time getting this from the prime minister of belgium saying there were two explosions in the departure hall around 8 a.m. local. that's about 3:00 eastern time here in the u.s., the possibility of a terrorist attack is being investigated. our priority is to secure the area. there have been many injured.
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has been raised to four, the maximum alert with special emphasis on transport hubs, airports, stations and nuclear plant s plants but also releasing that statement but that came out prior to the word of the other explosions at the train stations this morning. >> we should mention injured have been taken to a hospital where a crisis plan has been activated so the city reacting to what is going on in brussels this morning. the metro stations are closed following records of those explosions on the three different subway stations, all separate from one another following the two explosions and the departure hall of this brussels airport around 8:00 a.m. the time as alex explained peak time for people to be moving through the city, commuting through the city and now everything is coming to a close. transportation shutting down. >> alex, we should point out we're getting word that other airports understandably around
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least with security. heathrow, of course, in london, charles de gaulle, of course in paris, many of these airports are beefing up security understandably after this morning's incident. >> reporter: we're -- the belgian prime minister put out a statement confirming the morning. in the departure hall saying right now it's the possibility of a terror attack that is being investigated. in mention of possible attacks in downtown brussels but has been raised to 4, its highest alert level with an emphasis on transport hubs and nuclear
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confirmation at least one -- there was an explosion at one metro stop and there are reports from belgian media there were two others, as well. >> we'll give him a quick break and on the phone abc's consultant john cullen who is our terrorism consultant. john, can you hear us? >> yes, i can hear you. >> it would appear to be a worst nightmare playing out in belgium. >> yes, it appears things are not going in the right direction. if one explosion possibly could have been something that was un unrelated to terrorism but if the reports are true, that there are multiple explosions, taking place in multiple transportation facilities, this would have the earmarks of a terrorist attack. >> john, can you give us a sense of your reaction to this in light of the recent events with
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>> well, we've been hearing warnings from law enforcement and intelligence authorities for months now about their concerns that there could be hundreds if not thousands of people in europe, united states and canada who have been inspired by the ideology of groups like isis. while the arrest in brussels was a welcome sign from the standpoint of the terrorist attack in paris, that should, you know, that doesn't diminish the fact that it's a significant threat facing europe that remains. >> and, john, as we keep you on the line we have new video we want to call up here in a moment of the smoky subways as we mentioned and look at that. what a horrifying scene that is right now. this is the scene playing out just within the last half hour or so in downtown brussels. one of three metro stations that were attacked this morning. it would appear to be attacked where you had three explosions go off and smoke billowing out of that location right now.
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gotten a chance to look at many of the images that we're getting. i know it's fairly early but any sense when you look at the impact of all those explosions there of the explosions there at the airport, any sense of what might have been used or how this might have happened? >> it's too early to tell and the investigators are obviously looking at this first and foremost, security authorities are going to try to gain control of the situation. they are going to, you know, provide aid to those who are injured at these locations but they have got to figure out if they're more attacks coming and stop those attacks for the safety of the citizens in the city are going to be the most important factor on security official officials' mights at this point. >> can you walk us through what security officials will be doing right now. we know the terror alert was raised to the maximum level after the explosions, the metro completely shut down and airport being evacuated. all flights canceled or
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nothing is going on there now. so what are authorities going to be doing as we speak in reacting to this news coming out and what's going on in the city right >> because they're unfolding they'll try to get people off the street. if you haven't seen it you'll see a massive influx of uniform law enforcement and military personnel. particularly around where people congregate. this is a difficult one because authorities have already been saturating the community trying to arrest people associated with the cell that conducted the paris attack. so from an investigative perspective, they're already, you know, knocking on as many doors as they possibly can. i think right now, what you're going to see and they may require some assistance from the outlying areas you're going to
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security presence on the streets of brussels. >> once again we're talking with abc terrorism contributor john cohen joining us on the line following the explosions that took place and rocked the capital of belgium this morning. and, john, you know, we're getting these reports at one of the subway stations or metro stations attacked near the european union office there is in belgium and also you have this airport that was attacked. any significance that you could kind of glean at this early hour of the locates that were selected? >> i think, you know, it's early, that will all come out through the investigation. but these are places where they kong get great and in particular if an attack plan had to be speeded up because of the arrest over the past several days then people who are carrying out these type of attacks will go to places where they can blend in
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where there are large crowd so this cause as many casualties as possible. secondly, the significance is that, you know, if you can shut down the transportation infrastructure of a city you shut down the city. and there's no other way to have the most dramatic impact on a community or a city like brussels by shutting down its transportation systems. >> you know i first want to emphasize the possibility of a terrorist attack is being investigated, nothing has been confirmed. nothing been said beyond that officially by the prime minister, the word from the prime minister from a spokesperson this statement that was put out a little earlier. we know the threat level was raised to the highest level. we know before this, john, that the threat level was raised. it just wasn't at the highest level yet. given that context heading into this morning are you surprised at these -- if these were attacks that they were able to be carried out at an airport at
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>> yeah, i think, unfortunately, nothing much surprises me anymore. you know, we've been hearing through reports such as those on our network and others about the concerns that there was a much larger presence, a much larger set of operatives, you know, located in that city and in that region. again, this shouldn't be a surprise to anybody necessarily because there have been concerns that have been raised by european union officials, the u.s. officials over the last several months about just the breadth of the threat posed by those either recruited or inspired by isis and other terrorist organizations. >> we want to get the very latest that we have, confirmable as of abc news right now so you have two explosions that took place at the airport around 3:00 eastern time, roughly 8:00 belgian time this morning. all airport operations suspended and evacuated.
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the brussels metro. we believe three different incidents at three different locations, that is what we're getting from belgian media so it's been quite a morning so far there in brussels. >> we should mention according to the ap at least one is dead in that brussels airport explosion, there are numerous injuries at both the airport and the metro station near the eu headquarters according to the ap what we know of the damage or the reported damage in the wake of these attack -- or excuse me, these explosions. we know they're explosions but not whether they're attacks yet. according to the prime minister's statement but as far as the injuries and -- that have resulted there are numerous at both the metro and airport and one dead. >> you said there's been a lot of chatter with a lot of the networks that you guys deal with. you've been hearing that there might possibly be a plot?
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reporting yesterday from belgian officials that some of the results from the interviews that were taking place with individuals that have been arrested of late gave them -- caused concern that there was an existing network out there associated with those that carry out the paris attacks and additional plots may have been in the process of being planned. that said, you know, i think unfortunately the times we're living in right now and based on everything we've seen over the past year, year and a half, just has to, you know, we just have to remind everybody there are people out there that we may not know about that security services may not know about who are intent on committing an attack in the name of ideology, the ideology of a group like isis so this is just in the sense the new normal wane and we -- it's a very real possibility in city as cross europe and the united states.
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you expect to be the reaction in cities across europe. i know i have a statement from the heathrow spokesman saying that we take this safety and security of our passengers and colleagues very seriously and in light of the events at the brussels airport we're working with the police at heathrow who are providing a high visibility presence. they expect flights to the brussels airport to be affected as you would suspect considering that all flights have been canceled at the brussels airport. so obviously other airports reacting. how do you expect europe to be reacting this morning? >> you will see an increase in security across the european union, i suspect. you will see -- there will be an impact on flights throughout the region and perhaps internationally. you will likely see an increase in security presence in mass transit stations and other potential so-called soft targets or people locations where people kong get gait.
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american officials will be monitoring what's going on, as well. there are a large number of flights that ome to the united states from the european union and obviously they will be wanting to evaluate whether there's any security we are following to big breaking stories right now on eyewitness news this morning, deputy say two gunmen broke in a home near the ucf campus. the search to find them. "breaking news" as you have been watching, from overseas, the deadly explosions in a brussels airport that situation they're in belgium is changing and evolving by the minute, we are going to stay updated on that and keep you posted as well throw the morning.

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