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Brussels update: 5 things to know

Here’s the latest about Tuesday morning’s terrorist attacks in Brussels and what the bombings may mean for Americans at home and abroad.

1. What happened?

There were three explosions in the Belgian capital – two in the Brussels airport at about 8 a.m., and another in the Maelbeek subway station about an hour later, according to the Los Angeles Times.

So far, 34 people are reported dead and hundreds more injured. Among the injured are several Americans, including three Mormon missionaries from Utah and an American serviceman and his family, although details have not yet been released.

2. Who is responsible?

Terrorist group ISIS has claimed responsibility, as reported by multiple media outlets.

According to CNN, Belgian authorities released surveillance photos of three men pushing luggage carts at the airport. Two are believed to have carried out suicide attacks, an official said, while the third is being sought by police.

3. What does this mean for international air travel?

Officials at the Brussels airport said the facility will remain closed on Wednesday.

Anyone planning to travel to or through Brussels should check with their airlines.

American Airlines flight 751 from Brussels to Philadelphia has been canceled for today. Flight 750 from Philadelphia to Brussels is not scheduled for today.

American has issued a travel policy for customers with reservations to Brussels who wish to change their itineraries. Customers booked for travel on March 22 and March 23 may request a refund, select an alternate airport or reschedule travel through April 5.

Customers with flights to or from Brussels may use aa.com or call 1-800-679-8215.

United Airlines canceled flights to and from Brussels after a flight from Washington Dulles landed safely and a flight from Newark Liberty “was rerouted to a remote location and our customers and crew have deplaned.”

Delta said its DL80 from Atlanta to Brussels landed safely at the airport, while DL42 from New York was diverted to Amsterdam.

Delta also issued a travel waiver for affected travelers.

4. What about domestic airports?

The Brussels bombing was only the third attack on a major air hub since 9/11, Bloomberg and other outlets have reported.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh C. Johnson said the Transportation Security Administration “is deploying additional security to major city airports in the United States, and at various rail and transit stations around the country.”

“TSA is also working closely with state and local law enforcement, airport and transit authorities, and the aviation industry in order to augment that security,” Johnson added.

“We continually evaluate whether more (passenger) screening is necessary, particularly in light of today’s attacks,” he added.

Spokespeople for Harrisburg International Airport and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport described how security procedures are always in place and operate in ways the public may not always recognize, but deferred to federal officials on specifics.

Travelers at Pittsburgh International Airport already were seeing increased police presence, the Tribune-Review reported.

5. Should Americans be concerned?

The mantra coming from officials across the U.S. today has been to urge caution, but not fear.

“At present, we have no specific, credible intelligence of any plot to conduct similar attacks here in the United States,” Homeland Security’s Johnson said.

“That said, we remain very focused on the threat posed by lone terrorist actors who may lack direct connection to a foreign terrorist organization,” Johnson said, adding that “we are concerned that such radicalized individuals or small groups could carry out an attack in the Homeland with little warning.”

Gov. Tom Wolf this morning said “there are no known related threats in the U.S. or in Pennsylvania,” and that state officials have been in communication with their federal counterparts.

Roger DuPuis
Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, health care, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at rdupuis@cpbj.com.

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