Travel chaos as Europe freezes air, rail links with Brussels

BRUSSELS- Europe froze air and rail links to Brussels as the authorities tightened security in alarm over a series of deadly bomb blasts that ripped through the Belgian capital’s airport and a city-centre metro station.

Belgium locked down the capital, home to the headquarters of the European Union and NATO, and imposed its highest level of security alert, as the toll rose to at least 21 people.

As passengers fled the smoking airport and the bomb-hit Maalbeek metro station, the public authorities shut down the airport, metro system, buses, trams and major railway stations in the capital.

“Our whole network is closed at the moment,” the Brussels public transport operator STIB warned people on Twitter, confirming the shut-down of metro, bus and tram systems.

The Brussels-Zaventem international airport is closed until 6am (0500 GMT) Wednesday, the airport said. The shutdown hit hundreds of flights scheduled to arrive and depart from the airport, halting more than 400 arrivals from across Europe and other international airports including New York and Dakar.