Travellers urged to reconsider Belgium plans

Travellers urged to reconsider Belgium plans

Those travelling to Belgium have been advised to reconsider their need to travel after a suicide bomber blew himself up at Brussels Airport and a blast tore through a rush-hour metro train in the city shortly after.

Airlines scrambled to divert flights as Brussels airport announced it would close through Wednesday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Smartraveller service reported that Belgium has increased its national threat level to the highest level as at least 30 people were confirmed dead as a result of the attacks.

“We recommend you reconsider your need to travel to Belgium at this time,” it said.

“Australians in Brussels should remain attentive to their surroundings, avoid affected areas and follow the instructions of local authorities, including staying where they are and remaining indoors.”

Travellers were also warned to be more vigilant in places with high concentrations of people such as concerts, major events, train stations and airports, public transport and shopping areas.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop condemned the attacks and confirmed that DFAT was urgently seeking to determine whether any Australians had been caught up in them.

She said she had spoken to Australia’s ambassador in Brussels, Mark Higgie, for an assessment of the situation and confirmation embassy staff and their families were safe.

Brussels has been put into lockdown following the attacks.

Australian exchange student Mia Egerton-Warburton, who flew into Brussels on Monday night, said her group had been warned to stay indoors and that all public transport had been shut down.

“We’re feeling a bit shocked, confused and wary of possible further attacks,” the 20-year-old told AAP.

“To give you an insight into how tense it is, a car alarm just went off in the street outside our room and literally everyone was looking out their windows. People stopped walking.”

The University of Western Australia student said her group’s plans for sightseeing had been cancelled and they would now leave Brussels on Wednesday.

“All our families are pretty panicked, basically telling us to get out of Belgium,” Ms Egerton-Warburton said.

“We are too scared to go to the grocery store at the moment, so we are basically stuck inside hungry.”

Bishop advised Australians who had concerns for the welfare of family and friends in the region to contact them directly or if unable to do so, call DFAT’s 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on 1300 555 135 or +61 2 6261 3305 if calling from overseas.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australians are in solidarity with the people of Belgium following the attacks.

“Deeply concerned by the attacks in Brussels. Australians’ thoughts, prayers & solidarity are with the people of Belgium,” he tweeted after Tuesday’s attacks at the city’s airport and a metro station.

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

    Latest comments
    1. Brussels was always going to be a hotspot for terrorism. Authorities dropped the ball by not working together following the recent arrest of the man responsible for the Paris attacks. Perhaps if politics wasn’t involved, lives may have been saved.

Attacks belgium brussels dfat safety security smartraveller terrorism

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