By BIANCA LOPEZ
Tuesday morning, more than 30 people were killed and more than 230 wounded by explosions in Brussels, Belgium.
At around 8 a.m. local time, a suicide bomber stormed the Zaventem Airport. At 9 a.m., a metro station was struck. There were a total of at least three explosions: one at the station and two at the airport, according to NPR.
While ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, Belgian authorities say it is too early to positively determine a solid connection to the terrorist organization. However, it has been confirmed that the attacks were planned and there are three suspects for the airport explosions being investigated. Two of those suspects died in the blasts.
Madeline Ulrich, a sophomore sports management major at UT, was studying abroad in Belgium during the attacks. When the bomb went off in the airport, Ulrich was sleeping in her housing accommodation. She woke up to text messages from her father reading: “don’t go outside are you okay?”.
“I saw what happened and my heart stopped,” Ulrich said.
When Ulrich checked the location of the attack, she found relief in the fact that she was about half an hour away.
“But then the metro was attacked,” Ulrich said. “That attack was all of two blocks away from us and then I was scared out of my mind and just wanted to leave as [soon as] I possibly could. I was so upset and heart broken, all I wanted to do was see the city, go to Bruges, eat waffles, and see everything I’ve dreamt of and I couldn’t.”
Lindsy Tortorice, a junior painting major at UT, also awoke that morning to startling messages from her father concerning the attacks. Tortorice has a cousin living in Antwerp, roughly 47 minutes out of Brussels.
“I was so upset that my cousin was there,” Tortorice said. “Then [my dad] told me she was ok and I felt better, but I feel really uneasy about it all.”
Many news organizations are attempting to tie Tuesday’s attacks to the Nov. 2015 Paris attacks. A key factor in this assumed connection is that the suspect in the Paris attack, Salah Abdeslam, had been hiding out in Brussels, according to CNN.
This week’s attack occurred only one week after a bombing in Turkey. The suicide bomber involved in Istanbul, responsible for killing at least four people and injuring 36 people, was linked to ISIS.
“I just don’t understand their reasoning,” Tortorice said. “If they’re trying to scare us it’s working but at the same time it’s bringing everyone in the world together against them.”