Brussels metro station reopens after terror attack

brussels metro maelbeek station reopens mclaughlin lklv_00005704
brussels metro maelbeek station reopens mclaughlin lklv_00005704

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Brussels metro station reopens 01:49

Story highlights

  • 20 people were killed in the suicide bombing at Maelbeek metro station
  • Family members and survivors posted messages on a board in the station

Brussels (CNN)At 6 a.m. they started to arrive, resuming what had been a regular commute until a terrorist detonated his bomb at this metro station at 9:11 a.m. on March 22.

Maelbeek station has been closed since that day of carnage, which claimed 20 lives and injured dozens more commuters. About an hour earlier on the same day, another 12 people had been killed in a suicide bombing at the Brussels Airport.
    On Monday, the station reopened in a symbolic moment of healing for a city still reeling from the attacks.
    A Belgian serviceman stands guard as a train arrives at the Maelbeek - Maalbeek metro station on its re-opening day on April 25, 2016 in Brussels, after being closed since the 22 March attacks in the Belgian capital. Maelbeek - Maalbeek metro station was hit by one of the three Islamic State suicide bombers who struck Brussels airport and metro on March 22, killing 32 people and injuring hundreds. / AFP PHOTO / BELGA / THIERRY ROGETHIERRY ROGE/AFP/Getty Images
    As the first train rumbled into the station, a dozen soldiers and police guarded the platform, as much to reassure the public as to respond to another sinister act.
    One passenger described the atmosphere at Maelbeek as "strange."
    "You tend to look at all the other passengers as, you know....," he said, trailing off rather than give voice to the feelings of suspicion and vulnerability so many now feel in the wake of the attacks on innocent civilians.

    Messages to the dead

    While the structural damage caused by the blast has been fixed, the human toll still resonates in the station.
    Photo: "I got out alive, RIP those who didn't". Wauman E. On 22 March 2016 at 09:11 CET, an explosion took place at the Maelbeek/Maalbeek metro station. The bomb exploded from the second carriage of a four carriage train as it started to leave the Maelbeek/Maalbeek station and head in the direction of Arts-Loi/Kunst-Wet. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant released a statement claiming responsibility for the attack and branding Belgium a participant in the ongoing Military intervention against ISIL. The suicide attack took place about an hour after the bombings took place in Brussels Airport. The Flemish radio and television organisation VRT officially reported 20 people were killed at the metro station, with 106 injured.[1][2]The station was closed for over a month following the attacks. On 25 April 2016 the station reopened again.
    This is illustrated most poignantly with the installation of a condolences board near the ticket barriers.
    When a CNN crew arrived early Monday morning, this large white board was already full of messages, handwritten by survivors and the families of victims who were permitted to visit the station on Saturday to have a moment of reflection in private.
    It was the first opportunity they'd had to visit the place their loved ones died.
    The sentiments were in a multitude of languages -- French, Flemish, English, Arabic, Dutch and Spanish -- demonstrating the breadth of suffering caused by the bombers, and giving an insight into the lives lost.
    People read messages on a commemorative wall at the Maelbeek - Maalbeek metro station on its re-opening day on April 25, 2016 in Brussels, after being closed since the 22 March attacks in the Belgian capital. Maelbeek - Maalbeek metro station was hit by one of the three Islamic State suicide bombers who struck Brussels airport and metro on March 22, killing 32 people and injuring hundreds. / AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYSJOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images
    One message in French tells of a daughter. "I love my little Sabrina. I miss you. Go in Peace. Mom."
    Another pays tribute to the mother of a Polish family. "Dearest Mother, you will always stay in our hearts. Your loving children, father and the whole family."
    And at the bottom of the board, a simple message in Dutch from a woman now raising a toddler alone: "I live for you."

    Victim and witness

    Survivors of the metro blast also shared their thoughts.
    Many spoke of how fortunate they felt to be alive, but one woman who signed herself simply "Christelle" summed up the overwhelming sentiment of the board.
    "I am a victim of barbarity, but I am also a witness to solidarity."
    The united voice against terrorism has been loud in Belgium and is ringing still as the city takes a step toward closure. But it is only one step.
    "It is rather difficult to come here again," said one commuter. "We are still thinking about the people who died here and I think it will take a long time before we are back to normal life here."