Victims mirror city's diversity

Emergency workers removing a body from the Maalbeek metro station in Brussels yesterday.
Emergency workers removing a body from the Maalbeek metro station in Brussels yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BRUSSELS • They came from Peru or Morocco, from North America or Europe, and their lives - as parent, eurocrat, sportsman or missionary - were just as diverse.

That is the emerging picture of the scores of people killed or wounded in the triple bomb attack in Brussels on Tuesday.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders told Belgian television RTBF that there were around 40 nationalities among the dead and wounded. They included citizens of Britain, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Portugal and the United States, as well as three to four staff from the European Union's executive arm, the European Commission.

The broad range of nationalities reflects the cosmopolitan nature of Brussels - home to many migrants to Belgium as well as the institutional capital of the 28-nation EU.

Among the first fatalities to be named was a Peruvian woman, Ms Adelma Marina Tapia Ruiz, who had been living in Belgium for six years and was travelling with her journalist husband and young twin daughters. One of their daughters was wounded by flying debris in one of two blasts at Brussels' Zaventem airport.

A Moroccan woman was also killed in a third blast at a metro station located close to the European Union's institutional hub.

According to a toll update provided by the Belgian Health Ministry, 31 people were killed and 270 were injured. It was the bloodiest terror assault in Belgium's history.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls yesterday said 10 French nationals had been injured, four of them seriously.

In London, Downing Street said one British national was missing and four were injured.

Mr Mason Wells, 19, was one of three US missionaries seriously wounded in the blasts at the airport. US media reports said that in a dark twist of fate, Mr Wells had a similarly close call three years ago at the Boston Marathon bombing.

Basketball player Sebastien Bellin, who was pictured lying on the airport floor covered in blood, has had surgery, his father Jean Bellin, told CNN.

"He is obviously stunned. The first words out of his mouth were 'You wouldn't believe the carnage I saw around'," he said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 24, 2016, with the headline 'Victims mirror city's diversity'. Print Edition | Subscribe