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Bomb blasts in Brussels airport & metro leave 31 dead, 187 wounded


More than 200 flights to Brussels have been diverted or cancelled after three explosions that authorities are calling terror attacks, according to the flight tracking service Flightradar24.

Scores of people are dead after two explosions hit Brussels airport Tuesday morning and a third hit the city’s Maelbeek metro station.

The Brussels airport has been shut down and airport security has been tightened across Europe.

Spokesman Guy Sablon gave the toll to The Associated Press after two explosions hit the Brussels airport on Tuesday morning and a third hit the city’s Maelbeek metro station.

A Belgian subway official says there are 15 dead, 55 injured in the subway station attack.

The European Union’s top official says he’s appalled by the attacks on Brussels’ main airport and a metro near the EU’s institutions and has offered Europe’s support.

EU Council President Donald Tusk says Tuesday “these attacks mark another low by the terrorists in the service of hatred and violence.”

He says the EU “will fulfil its role to help Brussels, Belgium and Europe as a whole counter the terror threat which we are all facing.”

Staff at the EU institutions near the Maelbeek metro station — where at least 15 people have been killed by a blast — been warned to stay in their offices or at home.

French officials are condemning the Brussels attacks in the strongest terms.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls, speaking after a crisis meeting called by the French president, says “we are at war. We have been subjected for the last few months in Europe to acts of war.”

President Francois Hollande says “terrorists struck Brussels but it was Europe that was targeted — and all the world that is concerned.”

Hollande also warned that “this war will be long” so sang froid and lucidity are needed.

Paris says it will light the Eiffel Tower in the colours of the Belgian flag. The city’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, described it in a tweet as a measure of “solidarity with Brussels.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says the West’s politics of “double standards” have led to terrorist attacks and that frozen diplomatic relations between NATO and Russia have slowed the fight with terrorism.

The Kremlin, meanwhile, has offered its condolences to Belgium and expressed solidarity after the attacks Tuesday that left scores dead.

While Russia and the United States have brokered a fragile peace agreement in Syria, the two countries still disagree on how to tackle terrorist threats posed by the Islamic State group.

Prominent Russian lawmaker Alexei Pushkov also had a jab at Europe and NATO following the Brussels attacks. Pushkov later offered his condolences, but said “it’s time for Europe to understand where the genuine threat is coming from and join efforts with Russia.”

Facebook has activated its “safety check” system to help people check on friends and loved ones in the aftermath of the attacks in Brussels.

The company says Tuesday the system was put in use within hours of the three explosions at the Brussels airport and a metro station.

It says the system can provide an easy way for people to mark themselves as “safe” after a major disaster or crisis so that people searching for them will know they are unharmed.

The system has been used recently to help people communicate after major floods and earthquakes as well as terrorist attacks.

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