A Sheffield man who was staying next to the bombed Brussels metro station when it exploded has spoken to reassure friends and family that he is safe.
Martin Mayer, a leading Labour Party and Trade Union activist, had been meeting with MEPs last night and was booked in the Thon Hotel – right next to Maalbeek Metro where an explosion occurred this morning.
At around 8am Martin said he was sat in his hotel room when he heard a loud ‘thud’.
Assuming it was workmen on the roof, he thought nothing more of it until the moment he walked downstairs – and saw casualties being treated in the hotel reception.
Martin said: “I walked out of the lift and there were at least a dozen casualties being treated in the hotel reception.
“I hadn’t even checked the television or anything by this stage so had no idea what was going on.”
It was only when staff explained what had happened that he realised he had heard the explosion.
Martin said: “I am in the nearest hotel to the station and must praise the way staff have handled the situation.
“I just want to tell everybody at home that I am safe and well. There is a calm resilience here, no panic, and the authorities are very reassuring.”
Martin, who was supposed to travel back via Eurostar today, says that all public transport in Brussels has stopped.
He hopes to make it back home tomorrow.
Twin blasts hit Zaventem airport at 7am today, killing 11 and injuring 81, Belgium’s health minister said.
Another explosion struck Maelbeek metro station an hour later. Twenty people were killed, Brussels mayor Yvan Mayeur said.
Belgium has now raised its terrorism threat to its highest level.
The attacks come four days after Salah Abdeslam, the main fugitive in the Paris attacks, was seized in Brussels.