Brussels – An unknown number of Orthodox Jews are among the thousands of passengers currently stranded in a hangar at the Brussels airport following a pair of deadly explosions this morning. The death toll is currently at 31 with another 55 injured in the bomb blasts.
Two Belzer Chasidim are among the injured according to Kikar HaShabbat. Chaim Winternitz, a Jerusalem resident, was in Antwerp for a family simcha and was returning home with his family at the time of the blast. Winternitz, who sustained an injury to his leg, has already been released from the hospital and is expected to return to Israel soon with his family. A second unidentified Chasidic victim sustained a broken leg and is currently undergoing surgery in a Belgian hospital.
An amateur video posted to YouTube, that is being broadcasted widely by all major media outlets, shows the devastation at the airport terminal, with plumes of grey smoke pouring out of the building’s shattered windows. Passengers can be seen fleeing the terminal and two Yiddish speaking men can be heard among the crowd, with one telling the other that they need to leave before another bomb explodes.
Yisroel Yaakov Yeret of Ichud Hatzolah was among those who was davening Shachris at the airport when the explosions took place. Yeret was on his way from Israel to the United States at the time of the attack.
Yeret said that the passengers were evacuated to a large hangar where they are being bused in groups of 50 to an unknown location.
“No one has any idea what they are going to be doing with us, where we will be,” said Yeret. “There is no food, no drink, not even a place to charge a telephone.”
“We are very, very scared,” said Rabbi Avraham Gigi, chief rabbi of Brussels. “Residents of Belgium have been told to stay where they are and not to travel anywhere. Public transportation is completely shut down and you can feel the tension on the streets.”
Rabbi Gigi said that at the time of the attack the main synagogue in Brussels offered shelter to non-Jewish students who were in shock after the attack. Plans for a Purim chagiga and concert scheduled for tomorrow night remain up in the air pending further instructions from Belgian security.
Rabbi Gigi extended the condolences of the Jewish community to the bereaved and wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured.
“May G-d have mercy on Europe,” said Rabbi Gigi.