Brussels explosions: Airport worker Alphonse Youla hailed a hero

A series of apparently coordinated explosions ripped through the Brussels Airport and a metro train station.

Airport worker Alphonse Youla was wrapping baggage by the check-in desks at Brussels airport when he heard the explosions.

Within seconds he was wrapping people in his arms instead, carrying the wounded up the escalators to safety.

He is being hailed as a hero for saving at least seven people.

Alphonse Youla is being hailed as a hero for saving at least seven people.

Alphonse Youla is being hailed as a hero for saving at least seven people.

He also told reporters he had carried five bodies. 

Live: Brussels Airport blasts 
Suspects photo may show concealed triggers
#JeSuisBruxelles: Artists show solidarity with Brussels
Kiwi recalls Brussels scene
Trump politicking over Brussels attacks
Paris attacks mastermind captured in Brussels shootout 
Belgium extends highest terrorism alert in Brussels  

The explosions claimed the lives of dozens of people and injured hundreds more at the airport and the nearby metro station on Tuesday morning.

"I saw people lying on the ground with a lot of blood who weren't moving anymore," he told the Wall Street Journal

Youla handles baggage and security for flights with African destinations.

"It was a horror. I saw at least seven people dead. There was blood. People had lost legs. You could see their bodies but no legs," he said, according to the Daily Telegraph.

He said he heard someone yelling in Arabic before the blasts went off, and initially thought the first blast might have been a gunshot. The second one was much louder, he said.

Ad Feedback

"I didn't see him. He was behind me. I just heard the words. I don't speak Arabic so I don't know what he said," said Youla, 40, according to the Telegraph.

"Then the tiled ceiling of the airport collapsed. I helped carry out five dead, with their legs destroyed, as if the bomb came from a piece of luggage," he told reporters, according to Sky News.

Referring to his hands covered in blood, he said: "It's from the people I carried out." 

Pouya DeFaee tweeted a photo which appeared to show Youla inside the terminal near the elevators with an injured person in his arms, flanked by an airport official and a soldier with a rifle. 

The BBC's Gavin Lee tweeted photos of Youla in the evacuation area outside the airport, showing blood on his hands, and splattered on his bright green uniform.

Lee's post has been widely shared on Twitter. 

Others on the social media channel drew a wry distinction between people like Youla who put themselves in danger to provide active help to victims, and others who took photos or joined social media campaigns.

 - Sydney Morning Herald

Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback