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Brussels still not back to normal after deadly bombings

March 24, 2016, 15:30 UTC+3 BRUSSELS

Silence still reigns in Brussels and is only broken by the sounds of police car sirens

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© AP Photo/Martin Meissner

BRUSSELS, March 24. /TASS/. After the "black Tuesday" when the deadly blasts hit the Brussels airport and the metro station, today the city looks the same way as the day before. The Belgian capital is not in a hurry to return to normal life: silence still reigns here and is only broken by the sounds of police car sirens.

Transport and schools

Public transport operates on Thursday partially like the previous day: the key train stations are open but there is access to only one of the entrances because of heightened security and as a result huge lines have been formed there.

The Brussels subway is returning to normal more slowly, and only 17 out of 69 metro stations are open now. The metro works until 6.30 p.m. or 7 p.m. local time. Buses, trams and trolleybuses have longer hours but still do not operate as usual.

As for schools, they are officially open from Wednesday. Some educational institutions send SMS messages to students that "the school is closed today." Besides, many parents want their children to stay at home as the security situation remains tense.

Total control

The Brussels authorities have significantly tightened security in the city. This is especially felt in public transport. Several military and police officers are on duty at the entrances to the metro or a train station checking everyone’s bags. They ask everyone to take off their coats or jackets and use handheld metal detectors on most of the crowd.

Police have increased patrols in the city, especially in the center and the European Quarter housing most EU institutions where large numbers of military with guns maintain order. Heavy military trucks are spotted on the roads of the Belgian capital along with passenger cars.

United against hatred

At the heart of Brussels, not far from the central square Grand Place, a rally "United Against Hatred" has been held for a third day in a row. A pedestrian zone in downtown Brussels is covered with a carpet of flowers, notes and posters brought by citizens and tourists. Many local and foreign journalists with cameras stay there and cover events in the city after the attacks.

People are still frightened and do not hide their feelings. "Of course, everyone understands that life goes on and after a while everything will be forgotten and everyone will get back to normal life. But how can one get rid of a feeling of helplessness and vulnerability? How can we be sure of our security and not expect another explosion in a crowded place," Manuel, a citizen of Brussels, told TASS.

A series of terrorist attacks rocked the Belgian capital on March 22. Suicide bombers carried out two terror attacks in the departure hall of Brussels airport. A third explosion occurred at Maalbeek metro station close to the EU institutions in Brussels.

There have been no final figures on the death toll. According to various data, from 31 to 36 people were killed in the blasts and over 270 persons from 40 countries were injured.

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