Rodolphe Devilez, was working in a garage near the Maelbeek subway station in Brussels, when the bomb went off.

"We felt the explosion. The building was shaking, even though it is a very stable construction. We all ran outside," he told dpa.

"We saw people running from the metro, some had burns. Their hair was singed, their faces wounded," he added visibly shocked. "There were children as well. A little girl was crying and looking for her mum."

At the airport, where the first bomb went off, people were waiting for their flight connections or to meet relatives when they were surprised by the blast.

"We were in a book shop, when we heard an explosion, then another loud bang," said one woman. "We could feel the impact of the explosion, then we saw people running."

Finally, they were taken to safety. "We left the airport on foot," she said.

Erica Sepulveda had left her house early to meet her parents at the airport. "They were on the plane from Atlanta when it happened," she told dpa.

In the departures hall, one level above the exit where Sepulveda was waiting for her parents, a suicide bomber had detonated the deadly device that destroyed large parts of the airport's glass front.

"They didn't want to travel because they were scared of terror attacks," Sepulveda said about her parents. They did fly after all, and then were stuck at the airport in Brussels like thousands of others.

"They are still at the airport," she said earlier in the day. "They made them wait on the plane all morning." Only when the situation seemed safe were they allowed to get disembark.

In the EU quarter, where the metro bomb exploded, the situation appeared anything but safe.

"It's war out there," said a local woman as she was looking out of her window.

In the city centre, heavily armed soldiers were patrolling the streets - a familiar sight since the terrorist attacks in Paris last November.

"We are scared. So many people have died," said a young woman standing in front of a supermarket in the centre of Brussels. "It could happen to any of us."

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