Airlines cancelled hundreds of flights and European railways froze links with Brussels Tuesday after rush-hour bomb attacks killed around 35 people in the city's airport and a metro train, sparking a broad security response.
Belgium locked down the capital, home to the headquarters of the European Union and NATO, and imposed its highest level of security alert after the explosions, which killed about 14 people in the airport and another 20 in the metro, according to authorities in Brussels.
As passengers fled the smoking airport and the city-centre Maalbeek metro station, transport operators shut down the airport, metro system, buses, trams and major railway stations in the capital.
"Our whole network is closed at the moment," the Brussels public transport operator STIB warned people on Twitter, confirming the closure of metro, bus and tram systems. Major railway stations were closed, too, the Brussels public prosecutor said.
Eurostar said all trains to and from Brussels had been halted. "Our thoughts rest with anyone affected by the unfolding events in Brussels," it said in a statement.
The high speed train service Thalys, which links France and Belgium, said its traffic, too, had been stopped. The Brussels-Zaventem international airport was closed until 6am (0500 GMT) Wednesday, the airport said.
- Airports tighten security -
"All flights cancelled at #brusselsairport for the rest of the day. Avoid the surroundings of the airport," the airport said on Twitter.
"All our thoughts go to the victims of the horrible events that happened here at #brusselsairport this morning, their family and friends."
The airport shutdown forced more than 500 arrivals and departures to be cancelled or diverted, according to the European Aviation Crisis Coordination Cell in Brussels, paralysing air links with cities across Europe and other international airports.
Belgium's crisis centre urged people not to move. "No public transport. Stay where you are, also in schools, companies," it said on Twitter.
National forces tightened security at nuclear plants across Belgium, the Belga news agency said. "Vehicles are being checked with police and army on site," the agency added. Belgium's neighbours France, Germany and the Netherlands reacted swiftly.
In France, where the November 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people were intricately linked to jihadist networks in Belgium, an additional 1,600 police were deployed to border crossings, airports, ports and train stations, said Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
- Armoured cars at Paris airports -
People in France will need tickets or ID cards to access public transport areas, he said, and they may be frisked. Armoured cars were positioned at Paris' Orly and Roissy airports.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said it was time to adopt legislation obliging airlines to hand their passengers' data to European Union countries, a proposal that has raised privacy concerns. "We have lost enough time on this," he said. Bus services between France and Belgium were cancelled or disrupted, companies said.
In Germany, federal police said controls were being stepped up at the border with Belgium and at airports and stations. Frankfurt airport raised security.
The Netherlands, likewise, strengthened surveillance at the border with Belgium and ordered extra police patrols at Amsterdam's Schiphol international airport, Rotterdam and Eindhoven.
Elsewhere, London Gatwick, Barcelona and Moscow airports raised security, too.
Moscow beefed up security over "a heightened terror threat in Russia", a senior member of the senate committee for defence and security told RIA Novosti news agency.
Across the Atlantic, police in New York said they were positioning counter-terrorism reinforcements to crowded areas and train stations "out of an abundance of caution". In Washington DC, canine sweeps and patrols and patrols were stepped up, also as a precaution.
ORIGINAL POST: March 22, 2016 9 a.m.
A series of deadly terrorist attacks struck Brussels on Tuesday; two at Zaventem airport, the city’s main international airport, and a third explosion struck Maelbeek metro station, a subway station at the heart of the city.
Government officials put the death toll at at least 34, with more than 180 wounded.
The toll from the morning rush-hour attacks appears to be the highest in Europe since 130 people were killed in Paris in a series of attacks on November 13. Today's attacks followed Friday's arrest of a man in Brussels, Salah Abdeslam, who was the main fugitive of the November terror killings in France.
The neighboring nations of France, Germany and the Netherlands immediately tightened border security, as did Britain.
The mayor of Brussels, Yvan Mayeur, said 20 people were killed at the train station; 106 were wounded. An hour earlier, twin blasts killed at least 14 at the airport and wounded 81, Belgium's health minister said. One of the bombs went off in a departure lounge, blowing out the windows.
Belgium raised its terror alert to the highest level.
“We were fearing terrorist attacks, and that has now happened,” Prime Minister Charles Michel said.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his wife Sare Davutoglu place carnations at the site of Sunday's suicide bomb attack, in Ankara, Turkey March 17, 2016.
The airport and metro system have been closed. Social media drives have begun to offer shelter and rides to people stranded in the Belgian capital.
The European Commission, based in Brussels, has told employees to stay indoors or at home. UK Prime Minister David Cameron and US Pentagon chief Ashton Carter denounced the attacks and said their nations stand ready to help Belgium.
President Obama offered help as well from his visit to Cuba.
"We can and we will defeat those who threaten the safety and security of people all around the world," Obama said.