Families in Belgium urged to let loved ones know they are safe

People queue for buses behind a policeman in Brussels. Photo / AP
People queue for buses behind a policeman in Brussels. Photo / AP

New Zealanders living and travelling in Belgium are being urged to get in touch with family to reassure them they are safe in the wake of the bomb blasts.

It comes as the New Zealand Government condemns the terror attacks that caused carnage at transport hubs in the heart of the Belgium capital yesterday.

The timing of yesterday's Brussels bombings may have spared New Zealanders who traditionally travel to Europe for holidays in July.

House of Travel commercial director Brent Thomas said the number of Kiwis in Belgium would have been much higher had it happened later in the year. At this point there were not many Kiwis in Belgium as travel to Europe was still in the low season. Mr Thomas said if this had happened during July at the height of the holiday season the numbers would have been at least ten times that.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) spokesman said there are 72 New Zealanders registered on SafeTravel as being in Belgium, with no indication any of them have been caught up in the attacks.

The ministry raised its warning to Kiwis intending to travel to the European nation saying there was now a high risk to personal security because of the threat of terrorism. Kiwis were warned against all tourist and other non-essential travel to Belgium.

It said a SafeTravel message had been sent to New Zealanders in Belgium encouraging them to get in touch with family members back home to confirm they were well. They had received a steady stream of positive responses overnight.

The spokesman said there was no indication that any New Zealanders had been caught up in the attacks. However, the New Zealand Embassy in Brussels continued to keep in close contact with the Belgian Crisis Centre regarding the status of affected foreign citizens.

The spokesman said if anyone had concerns about a New Zealand citizen family member in Belgium they were encouraged to try and make direct contact in the first instance.

If there were ongoing concerns they were asked to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 04 439 8000 (if calling from within New Zealand) or +64 4 439 8000 (if calling from outside New Zealand). Any New Zealanders in Belgium not registered with www.safetravel.govt.nz were strongly urged to register.

New Zealand's ambassador to the European Union, David Taylor, urged Kiwis in Belgium to be vigilant, monitor media for updates and follow instructions from local authorities.

Prime Minister John Key this morning condemned the attacks. "We utterly condemn these appalling acts which have killed and wounded so many," he said. "No innocent person should have to worry about such violence when going about their daily lives and New Zealand stands with Belgium in the fight against terrorism."

Mr Key said atrocities like this and the recent attacks in Turkey were a stark reminder of why the international community needed to stand together in the global fight against terrorism. "Our thoughts are with Belgians in the aftermath of this shocking attack," he said.

Meanwhile, a Maori Muslim is calling people of all faiths to pray for those caught up in the Belgium terror attack. "I am urging all people of all faiths everywhere to pray for the people of Brussels," said Te Rata Hikairo. "Indeed we are once again called on to pray for those struck by the great tragedy of 'terrorism'."

The Union Jack is at half-mast at the British High Commission in Wellington this morning.

The High Commission tweeted its condolences to those affected in the Brussels attacks.


Auckland's Sky Tower will tonight join significant landmarks around the world and glow black, yellow and red as a sign of solidarity and support for the people of Belgium.

- NZ Herald

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