Rotorua Daily Post health and business reporter

Belgium bombing hits close to home for MP

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People holding a banner reading "I am Brussels".
People holding a banner reading "I am Brussels".

Shock, concern and sadness are among the emotions Rotorua MP Todd McClay felt after hearing of the terror attacks in Belgium, his home for 15 years.

Rotorua MP Todd McClay lived in Belgium for 15 years.
Rotorua MP Todd McClay lived in Belgium for 15 years.

At least 34 people were killed on Tuesday and more than 200 injured after explosions tore through Brussels Airport and a Metro station in the city centre. Isis has since taken responsibility for the deadly suicide bombings.

Police were last night still hunting for those involved in the bombing.

Mr McClay and his wife, Nadene, lived in Belgium for 15 years and all four of their children were born there.

Just a month ago he was at the airport where the attacks took place and visited the metro station frequently.

Mr McClay said the links definitely brought the reality of the situation home.

"We've been back [in New Zealand] for about nine years but during that time we've been backwards and forwards quite a bit."

Mr McClay said the family still had a lot of friends over there.

"So far thankfully all of them are okay.

"Belgium was an incredibly welcoming and open country, and it was upsetting that the very people they had welcomed were those carrying out such atrocities.

"For those who have been most welcome to turn around and commit these atrocities ..."

Mr McClay said those back in Belgium were concerned, and had been worried about attacks following the Paris attacks when they were put into lockdown.

"They have a heightened sense of anxiety."

"It's a very, very challenging time but the Belgium people are very, very strong. They have come through adversity before."

He said Brussels was known as a meeting place of the minds of the world, where leaders worked to make people's lives better and more prosperous and the city epitomised the free movement of people.

The blown-out facade of the terminal at Zaventem airport.
The blown-out facade of the terminal at Zaventem airport.

"The people that have committed these terrible crimes actually want to oppress and stop this openness."

Mr McClay said the attacks wouldn't stop him from carrying out his job as Minister of Trade, which involved a lot of overseas travel.

"There is always a lot of thought put into safety."

Tauranga Girls' College teacher Murray Armstrong said the attacks had not altered plans for a school trip which would take a group of students to Belgium next month.

"Our first stop for three nights is in Belgium. We fly into Paris then we head north into the Flanders area," Mr Armstrong said.

"It hasn't affected plans. It's just a await and see thing. We just have to roll with the punches."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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