Brussels Airport Delays Reopening; Death Toll Lowered to 32

Earlier toll, following confusion between two lists of people who had died at Brussels airport and hospital, was 35

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A writing on the asphalt reads “Brussels forever” at the place de la Bourse in the centre of Brussels. (Photo: AP)

Brussels airport said it would not reopen on Wednesday despite drills to test resuming partial services after the suicide bombings that struck its departure hall and a metro train, as Belgium lowered the death toll to 32.

Zaventem airport has been closed since the twin bombings wrecked the departure hall on March 22, in coordinated suicide attacks that were claimed by the Islamic State group and which also hit Maalbeek metro station in central Brussels.

Zaventem airport in Brussels. (Photo: AP)
Zaventem airport in Brussels. (Photo: AP)

A total of 32 people were killed in Belgium’s worst-ever terror attacks, the government said, down from an earlier toll of 35, following confusion between two lists of people who had died at the scene and in the hospital.

After thorough verification: number of victims goes down to 32. 94 people still in hospital.
Maggie de Block, Belgian Health Minister

All the victims have now been identified – many of them foreign nationals, a testament to the cosmopolitan nature of a city that is home to both the European Union and NATO.

Hundreds of employees returned to the airport on Tuesday for a large-scale test run to determine if services could partially resume from today – but those hopes were dashed.

Undated combination photo provided by the Belgian Federal Police in Brussels of suspect Najim Laachraoui on  Monday, 21 March 2016. (Photo: AP)
Undated combination photo provided by the Belgian Federal Police in Brussels of suspect Najim Laachraoui on Monday, 21 March 2016. (Photo: AP)

Airport spokeswoman Anke Fransen said authorities were reviewing the results of the practice run, adding: “We hope to reach a decision on a partial re-opening of the airport in the course of (today) morning.”

The airport’s chief executive Arnaud Feist has warned it could take “months” for Zaventem to be fully operational again.

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