US transportation hubs on alert following Brussels bombings

Airport terminals in Denver and Atlanta were evacuated and train stations and airports in other cities were placed on alert following the Tuesday attacks in Brussels that left more than 30 people dead.

Tami Chappell/Reuters/File
Atlanta Police Department officers patrol at the check-in area at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta in November, 2015.

In the wake of Tuesday’s terror attacks in Belgium that left more than 30 people dead, airports around the United States were placed on high alert and false alarms in Atlanta and Denver terminals prompted brief evacuations.

The Belgian bombings, which took place in one of Brussels' Metro stations and the Brussels Airport, were carried out by suicide bombers later linked to the terrorist group known as the Islamic State. The strike prompted increased security throughout Europe as well as in major airports and rail hubs in the US.

On Wednesday, part of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was evacuated after a bomb-sniffing dog drew attention to a suspicious package. A domestic terminal was immediately cleared of passengers by airport officials, although the Atlanta Police Department and Hartsfield-Jackson authorities quickly finished investigating the package and the airport’s flight operations resumed as usual.

After what happened yesterday, you think it's not going to happen here, and then you have something like that taking place and you are running out and everybody is scared,” passenger Greg Embry said to WXIA-TV. “It was a pretty strange experience to go through.”

The main terminal of Denver International Airport in Colorado was also partially evacuated this week due to the discovery of suspicious packages on Tuesday near ticket counters in the facility. Officers from the Denver Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Transportation Security Administration all arrived at the terminal, but eventually found the packages to be of no threat.

Those incidents, and the alerts and increased security presence in transportation centers around the US, kept travelers on edge following the deadly bombings.

The US Department of Homeland Security in a statement Tuesday said that it had “no specific, credible intelligence of any plot” similar to the Brussels attack and encouraged people to continue with their travels and daily lives, while saying to “at all times be aware and vigilant.”

The US Department of State issued a travel advisory for US citizens planning to travel to or within Europe, also urging travelers to “exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation.”

The State Department also announced that several US citizens had been injured in the Brussels blasts, but that none had been killed.

This report contains material from Reuters.

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