East of England MEP Richard Howitt used bombed Brussels metro station half an hour before terror attack

Labour MEP Richard Howitt, who narrowly avoided the terror attacks in Brussels this morning.

Labour MEP Richard Howitt, who narrowly avoided the terror attacks in Brussels this morning. - Credit: Archant

At least 31 people have been killed in terror attacks on an airport and a metro station in Brussels – which East of England MEP Richard Howitt used just half an hour before.

Mr Howitt tweeted afterwards to say he is safe and is now in the European Parliament, which he says is ‘in lockdown’ after the explosions.

Zaventem Airport in Brussels was hit by two explosions, at least one a suicide bombing, at about 8am local time (7am UK time) as people queued to check in. Maalbeek Metro Station, near the European Parliament building, was attacked about an hour later.

The blasts come days after the capture of Salah Abdeslam, the main suspect in November’s Paris attacks.

Mr Howitt tweeted from inside the parliament building: “We stand in silence but now proceed with vote in parliament. Democracy must always win.”

He added: “I admit I was shaken, having been at the station just minutes before the bomb was detonated.

“I was actually telephoning my family to try to reassure my own children before they left for school that I was safe after the airport bombs.

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“It is chilling to have been so close to such an awful event.

“In the end, I am only in Brussels to represent everyone back home and each one of us is affected by this attack.

“This is a deliberate attack not only on the European Union, but on Belgium and on the United States too, and shows none of us can consider ourselves safe and that all of us must stand together in the fight against terrorism.

“I am proud that all of my European colleagues stayed determined to continue with our business, irrespective of politics or nationality.

“Terrorism succeeds by inflicting terror and our response must be to stay calm and to continue as normal, because terrorism must never defeat democracy.”

The airport is closed. Passengers should contact their airlines, and those looking for information about friends and family should call (0032) (0) 27537300.