Connect with us

Archives

Brussels attacks: At least 31 dead at Zaventem and Maelbeek

Published

on

  • As activities at Belgian Seaports is unaffected by Brussels Blasts

At least 31 people have been killed and many seriously injured in attacks at Brussels international airport and a city metro station.

Twin blasts hit Zaventem airport at 07:00 GMT, killing 11 and injuring 81, Belgium’s health minister said.

Another explosion struck Maelbeek metro station an hour later with 20 people killed, the Brussels mayor said.

Belgium has raised its terrorism threat to its highest level. Three days of national mourning have been declared.

The attacks come four days after Salah Abdeslam, the main fugitive in the Paris attacks, was seized in Brussels.

Prime Minister Charles Michel called the latest attacks “blind, violent and cowardly”, adding: “This is a day of tragedy, a black day… I would like to call on everyone to show calmness and solidarity”.

European Council president Donald Tusk said: “These attacks mark another low by the terrorists in the service of hatred and violence.”

US President Barack Obama called the blasts “outrageous attacks against innocent people”.

The airport and the entire public transport system in Brussels are closed, although some train stations are due to reopen shortly.

Two blasts tore through the departures area of Zaventem airport shortly after 08:00 local time (07:00 GMT).

The Belgian prosecutor said “probably a suicide bomber” was involved.

The state-owned Belga news agency reports that shots were fired and shouts in Arabic were heard before the two explosions.

Some witnesses said that after the first blast people fled only to get caught in the second blast.

Public broadcaster VRT said an assault rifle was found next to a dead attacker. Private broadcaster VTM added that an unexploded bomb belt had been found. Reports say it will be detonated safely soon.

Zach Mouzoun, arriving on a flight from Geneva, told France’s BFM television: “It was atrocious. The ceilings collapsed. There was blood everywhere, injured people, bags everywhere. We were walking in the debris. It was a war scene.”

All flights have been diverted. Eurostar has cancelled all trains to and from Brussels. The Thalys France-Benelux train operator says the entire network is closed.

“People were running over others that had fallen, I couldn’t breathe. I can’t believe I’m alive,” 15-year-old Antoine tells me, as he walks with his school friends in a line of hundreds being escorted on foot and by bus to a sports hall, now a makeshift reception centre.

Three hearses pass, heading towards the ruins of the airport departure hall. People sob at the sight of them.

Several tourists are asking police what they should do now, where it is safe to go – and when the airport might reopen.

The police are confused too, but offer what little information they have, telling people to head to a reception centre. An officer is repeatedly shouting, “Quickly, keep moving, evacuate, this is serious.”

Security has been stepped up at Gatwick and Heathrow airports and the UK Foreign Office has advised British nationals to avoid crowded areas in Belgium. UK PM David Cameron chaired a meeting of the Cobra response committee on Tuesday.

France has stepped up security, and the cabinet has held an emergency meeting.

“The terrorists have struck Belgium but it is Europe that was targeted. And it is the whole world that is concerned with this,” said French President Francois Hollande.

There is also extra security at Dutch airports.

The metro blast occurred shortly after 08:00 GMT during the rush hour at Maelbeek station.

It struck the middle carriage of a three-carriage train while it was moving away from the platform.

Alexandre Brans told AP: “The metro was leaving Maelbeek station when there was a really loud explosion. It was panic everywhere. There were a lot of people in the metro.”

As well as those killed, Mr Mayeur said more than 100 people had been injured, 17 of them severely.

The station is close to EU institutions. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has told employees to stay indoors or at home. All meetings at EU institutions have been cancelled.

Ryan McGhee, a catering worker at a college in Brussels, told the BBC: “The entire city is in lockdown. People are calm at the moment but the atmosphere is tense.”

Belgium’s Interior Minister Jan Jambon had said on Monday that the country was on the highest level of alert for possible revenge attacks after the capture of Salah Abdeslam.

He told Belgian radio: “We know that stopping one cell can… push others into action. We are aware of it in this case.”

Zaventem airport is 11km (7 miles) north-east of Brussels and dealt with more than 23 million passengers last year.

European security experts had been braced for another attack for months. But it is always a huge shock when it actually happens.

If this was “revenge” for the arrest of Salah Abdeslam on Friday, it will be a source of considerable concern that a functioning terrorist network was able to respond so quickly and with such devastating effect.

It is possible that a cell linked to Abdeslam brought forward the timing of a future attack because they thought he might blow their cover.

Either way, it shows how advanced the planning was in terms of logistics, explosives, weapons and people willing to carry out such attacks on civilian targets.

The priority now will be to ensure that anyone else who poses an imminent threat to the public is apprehended as soon as possible. But it is clear that there are still huge gaps in intelligence, and Brussels is seen as a soft target.

In the words of French President Francois Hollande, the response from Europe will need to be “calm, lucid and determined” – and it will have to last for a long time.

In the meantime, activities at Belgian seaports are continuing as usual, according to the latest update from GAC Belgium, following the explosions that rocked the country’s capital earlier this morning.

Brussels Airport is closed and all incoming flights have been diverted to other European destinations, after two blasts were reported at about 0800 hours this morning.

Shortly afterwards, there was a blast at the Maelbeek station in the Brussels Metro system. At least 13 people have been killed in the explosions, Belgian media said.

The city’s bus, tram and Metro systems have all been closed and the city is effectively unreachable by air or road. Eurostar has now cancelled services in and out of Brussels Midi.

According to reports, the country has raised its terror threat from level three to the maximum level four. The cause of the explosions is yet to be determined.

BBC with additional report from World Maritime News

Continue Reading
Advertisement Simply Easy Learning
1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

14 − 10 =

Archives

WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

Published

on

…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

Continue Reading

Archives

Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

Published

on

The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

Continue Reading

Archives

Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

Published

on

…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

Continue Reading

Editor’s Pick

Politics