Transportation and business operations grind to a halt in the wake of deadly terrorist attacks in Brussels.
Photo courtesy Wall Street Journal
Multiple explosions rocked Brussels, the capital city of Belgium, on Tuesday, leaving 34 dead and more than 230 injured, many in critical condition. The explosions at Brussels Zaventem Airport, the country’s main airport located in Zaventem, Flemish Brabant, occurred at 08:00 local time. Less than an hour later, another explosion occurred at the Maelbeek metro station, located near the main buildings of the European Union. The incident prompted the closure of the airport until 06:00 local time on Wednesday, March 23.
The city went into lockdown following the attacks. The incident has caused travel chaos in Brussels as hundreds of flights to and from the airport, which serves about 24 million per year, were cancelled and diverted. Local authorities have shut down the entire subway system and halted all public transportation, including buses and trams, in the city. Terrorism threat assessment in the city has also been raised to its highest level; people were advised to stay indoors.
ISIS Claims Responsibility
According to reports, the Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the rush-hour attacks which happened four days after Salah Abdeslam was arrested. Abdeslam is the last suspect from the November 2015’s Paris attack that killed 130 people.
Airlines Stocks Fall; Audi Halts Operations
Major airlines’ pre-market shares fell on Tuesday, March 22 after the attacks. United Continental (NYSE:UAL) was down at around 3% while Delta Air Lines (DAL), “American Airlines (AAL) and Southwest (LUV) were off over 2%”.
Volkswagen Group’s unit, Audi, temporarily halted its car production at its Brussels manufacturing plant, located in the residential district of Forest. The company officials advised its 1,100 late shift staff on Tuesday, March 22 to stay at home; the said shift was scheduled to produce around 250 A1 subcompact car units. Up to 520 A1 unit are exclusively manufactured daily at the plant. The early shift for the next day, however, has not been cancelled. Security at the said factory, with a workforce of 2,500, has also been heightened.
The United States on Alert
Following the attacks, cities and airports in the United States have stepped up their security efforts. Authorities fear that “other members of the terror cell could go underground, or regroup and strike”. The state of New York has positioned counterrorism resources to crowded areas and transit locations across New York city. Security has also been stepped up at LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.
Other cities across the country including Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and Miami, have also heightened security efforts.