Brussels Airport runs tests for possible re-opening
Brussels Airport’s management company is carrying out a range of tests today to determine if the airport is ready to re-open – perhaps as early as tomorrow – the company said, following the terrorist attacks that occurred at the airport last Tuesday, 22 March.
Some 800 airport workers will be present, together with police, defence, airline representatives and technical staff, to test the functioning and infrastructure of the check-in process. The double suicide bombings last week took place at the check-in desks in the departures hall.
Even if the airport re-opens this week, it would be only for a fraction of flights. It has begun installation of temporary structures in order to comply with the additional security measures that the government has imposed on all Belgian airports. These include a set of temporary check-in desks on the ground floor leading to the screening platform, which was undamaged in the attack. Passengers and hand baggage can be checked here before moving on to the gates.
“From that point, we take it step by step, as parts of the damaged terminal area brought back into service and our capacity can be increased,” said airport CEO Arnaud Feist. “But that’s going to be a process of months.”
Meanwhile, the death toll from last Tuesday’s attacks at the airport and Maalbeek metro station in the capital has now reached 35, after four of the seriously injured victims died in hospital. Twenty-eight of them have been identified.
The number of injured is approximately 340. There are 96 patients still in hospitals in Belgium, 55 of them in intensive care. Thirty victims are in specialist burns units in Belgium, France and the US.
The names of the three suicide bombers are now also confirmed. The second bomber at the airport was Najim Lachraaoui, who blew himself up together with Ibrahim El Bakraoui. El Bakraoui’s brother, Khalid, blew himself up on the metro at Maalbeek.
Meanwhile it was revealed that Belgian and French investigators are looking for a new suspect, Naim al-Hamed, whose DNA was found in the bomb-making house uncovered last week in the Brussels municipality of Schaerbeek.
Al-Hamed is now thought to be the man shown in the now-famous security footage wearing a hat – a role earlier attributed to Faycal Cheffou, arrested last week after allegedly being identified by the taxi driver who took the three men to the airport. Cheffou was later released. “The indications that led to his detention could not be confirmed by the investigation,” the prosecutor’s office said.