Story highlights

Basketball player: 'Dad, you wouldn't believe the carnage I saw'

Reports of voices in Arabic, before airport blasts

At least 30 people were killed in attacks, Belgian government says

CNN  — 

Witnesses to the carnage Tuesday in Brussels endured scenes of panic, smoke and horrific injuries.

Travelers, commuters, European Union officials and baggage handlers alike were caught up in the deadly terrorist attacks.

Two explosions, including at least one suicide bomb, rocked Brussels Airport about 8 a.m. local time. An hour later, another blast hit a subway station in the heart of the Belgian capital. At least 30 people were killed in the attacks and 230 were wounded, a Belgian government representative told CNN.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the deadly twin attacks.

Basketball player Sebastian Bellin was standing by a check-in desk – an unsecured area where no one was expecting the violence soon to come. His father Jean Bellin spoke to him in the hospital.

“The first words out of his mouth were, ‘Dad, you wouldn’t believe the carnage I saw.’

“He was very clear and very articulate even though he was obviously in a lot of pain. The second time I talked to him, about two hours later, I think he was obviously sedated and feeling much more tired and ready to take a break.”

“I don’t know exactly, all I know is the force of the blast was enough to lift him 16 feet in the air and when he landed back and he got a piece of shrapnel really deep there, shrapnel in his left leg and right hip.”

Pavel Ohal took this photo after one of the explosions.

Elsewhere in the first floor departure lounge, journalist and Brussels resident Ketevan Kardava was inquiring about her ticket when she noticed a suspicious, black piece of baggage near her.

“And in one minute I heard the explosion, and then in less than a minute, the second one, much stronger than the first one,” she tells CNN’s Hala Gorani.

“I was very near, very, very near. After the first explosion, doors were flying, windowns were flying. Everyone was crying, children and young people lying on the floor, so many people injured, I did not know to help them.”

As a journalist, she said she did what came naturally to her – document the carnage.

“When I realized I was alive, first what I did was take pictures and then tweet them and put them on Facebook.”

Alphonse Lyoura, a baggage handler at the airport, described the moment of the attack to CNN affiliate BFMTV.

“I heard one shot,” Lyoura said. “After the shot, I heard someone speaking in Arabic. And as soon as he finished speaking in Arabic, I heard the explosion,” he said. “A huge, strong explosion.”

What he saw afterward was almost beyond description.

“There was a woman who couldn’t talk,” he said. “There was a man who had lost his two legs. There was a police officer with a mangled leg.

“It’s horrible; Belgium doesn’t deserve this.”

Brussels attacks: Live updates

The scene was also recounted by another survivor, Giulia Paravinci.

“The man I was talking to said he heard someone screaming something in Arabic, then (nearby) a woman’s leg exploded. Her husband, who was standing next to her, also lost a leg, and a policeman who was running toward them, also lost a leg.

“One woman who was holding her baby was screaming, ‘where’s my baby?’ because she had lost the other one.”

Belgium: Europe’s front line in the war on terror

Screaming, pushing children to safety

Former NBA superstar Dikembe Mutombo was napping in a lounge when people started screaming. He awoke to the sight of panicked passengers fleeing the room. A woman was yelling, “We have to go! We have to go! A lot of people are bleeding downstairs.”

Mutombo ran with the crowd. It was upsetting, he said, to see women trying to push their children to safety.

“They were struggling,” he told CNN. “It was very crazy.”

Brussels attacks: Travel advice

Amazing escape – again

Mason Wells, an Mormon missionary, was injured in the explosions in Brussels Airport. Remarkably, he was two blocks away from the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, says family spokesperson Lloyd Coleman. Wells’ mother was running the marathon and he was with his father when it happened.

Wells is currently in surgery in Brussels, after he sustained injuries to his foot and ankle at the Brussels airport. He also has burns on his hands and face, according to Coleman.

‘Noises that shouldn’t be there’

Subway passengers walk along the tracks following Tuesday's attack.

An hour later, another blast struck the subway station of Maelbeek, in central Brussels, near the European quarter, where much of the European Union is based.

Sander Verniers was on the subway, between stations, when he felt the blast.

“I think I was in the subway right behind the one that carried the bomb,” he told CNN.

“We all kind of felt a strong wind coming through the carriage, through the subway, and then we heard some noises that shouldn’t be there.”

The train braked, passengers opened the emergency exit and security forces evacuated them through smoke-filled subway tunnels.

Evan Lamos also was on the subway. He described on Twitter how he felt a blast of air and his ears popped immediately before the carriage stopped between stations.


A spokesman for the fire department said the site of the blast was the worst carnage he had seen in almost 45 years as an emergency responder.

“It looked like war,” Pierre Meys told CNN. “It’s unbelievable. It’s really hard. It was the first time I see something so terrible.”

Many of the wounded were taken to the Thon Hotel EU, where medical teams set up a triage area in the lobby.

Hotel manager Hans Van der Biesen said employees were busy helping guests check out when they heard the rumble from the station, about 25 meters (27 yards) away.

Van der Biesen said the victims came flooding out of the station but, perhaps because they were in shock, they seemed “calm and disciplined.”

The hotel’s emergency response team gathered first-aid kits, towels and water and treated the wounded until medics showed up. Emergency crews brought about 40 victims into the lobby to treat their injuries, Van der Biesen said.

Emotional scenes

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Gavin Sheridan tweeted that there were emotional scenes around the Maelbeek station after the blast.

“A young lady walked past me in tears,” he tweeted.

“One clearly distressed and angry commuter shouted at the hacks,” he said, referring to journalists, “‘You have no idea what’s down there. Bodies…’ before storming off.”

CNN’s Don Melvin, Euan McKirdy and Paul Armstrong contributed to this report.