Belfast Telegraph

Brussels attacks: 'We expected something, but nothing on this level,' says Northern Ireland man

'I think they don't know what to expect next'

By Claire Williamson

A Northern Ireland man who works and lives in Brussels has told of his shock after a bomb exploded at a Metro station just yards from him, killing at least 15 people.

Nathan Magee from Bangor works in the European Parliament and has lived in Brussels for almost 11 years.

At least 26 people have been killed in three explosions at the country's airport and at Maalbeek Metro station, which is close to the EU headquarters.

Scores more are thought to be seriously injured.

Belgium has been effectively shutdown and people warned not to leave their homes.

And 225 troops have been deployed in the city in the wake of explosions.

Read more: Brussels attacks live updates: At least 26 dead in terrorist attacks at Brussels airport and Metro

The European Parliament is on the main street and is around 15 minutes from the airport where two bombs exploded.

The Metro stop is just 200 yards away from the building.

Nathan Magee told the Belfast Telegraph of the surreal feeling in the wake of the blasts and that he is in a state of shock.

He said: "There is a Metro stop about 200 yards away called Malbeek and we heard there was one explosion there at least.

"At the minute it's a bit surreal. I don't think anybody really knows what to do. We haven't been told we must stay here but at the minute I think it seems to be the safest option. They are closing off the roads etc, I think they don't know what to expect next.

"So it's a case of you stay where you are and work or if you are at home you stay at home."

Nathan told how of how one of his colleagues' children was due to board the Metro this morning but by chance didn't, also another colleague missed it by moment when he couldn't get parked.

He said the main highway is deserted with just police and ambulances around.

Mr Magee described the scenes of emergency services as he looked out his office window. He said they had expected something was going to happen but didn't expect it to be "on this level".

He said: "I live about 5/10 minutes away walking but I think it's just safer to stay in work.

"I'm looking out the windows and there doesn't seem to be a lot of traffic or people. The police have blocked the main road it's like a four main highway.

"So they seem to have blocked that and only police cars and ambulances going up and down."

SHOCK

"In a way I sort of expected it. I expected something but I don't think we really expected it on this level. A bit of shock this morning with the airport but the Metro station has really hit home with everybody. A colleague of mine, he has two young children who were to take the Metro this morning.

"It's really strange. nobody knows what to do or think.

"Trains go every 3/4 minutes so you could be on that Metro. I went to pick up coffee yesterday in the centre and I used the exact same Metro station.

"You just never know."

DEFIANT

Mr Magee said that the local Belgians are quite defiant and drawing a comparison to the Troubles in Northern Ireland, he said it's a case of "deal with it and get on".

He said: The last time this happened with Paris, people still went out, people still went for their dinners.

"People stayed away from cinemas etc, but they tried to get on with life as much as possible.

"It's like us when we were at home (in Northern Ireland) all those years ago.

"You have to deal with it and get on. But you still have to hold back and be a bit more careful. but you just have to get on with it and be a bit more sensible about things."

Mr Magee is supposed to be coming back to Northern Ireland tomorrow but at the minute doesn't know if that will be possible.

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