A New Zealand woman living in Brussels has told how she sat in her apartment with her two children "listening to all the sirens outside".

Sarah Spence lives about 15 minutes from the airport, scene of the first two explosions, and five from Maelbeek Metro Station, where the third occurred.

The 32-year-old from Whangaparaoa, north of Auckland, said the attacks felt "a bit close to home to be honest".

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Mrs Spence and her husband James Spence, also 32, have lived in Brussels for five years and live about 50 metres from the metro line with their children, aged two years and four months.

Her husband travels a lot. He was at work and had been in touch to say he was safe.

"So very happy that he wasn't at the airport this morning."

Source: @yosefbadichi

Mrs Spence said people were being encouraged to stay inside if possible.

"I will definitely be keeping my two children safe inside today. The unknown is scary."

Meanwhile, a Christchurch-born woman living in Brussels - who wanted to be known only as Joyce - said the incidents were "disturbing" because anyone could have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

She said Maelbeek was on her metro line.