Is it safe to travel to Europe?
TERROR attacks that rocked Belgium last night has also left foreigners unsure of whether or not they should avoid the usually popular tourist destination.
The three deadly blasts claimed by terror group Islamic State, which killed at least 34 people and injured at least 250 others, has sent Brussels into lockdown as authorities issue Belgium’s highest-possible national threat level.
Flights have been cancelled in and out of Zaventum airport, which was the site of two explosions. Other Belgian airports, including Brussels South Charleroi, Liege and Antwerp airports, are open but under heavy security.
Bus, train and metro services have been shut down across the capital and Eurostar has limited its services to the city.
Elsewhere, security has been beefed up at airports in London, Paris, Frankfurt and across The Netherlands.
In light of the attacks, the Australian government has urged Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Belgium, and cautioned about possible risks in France.
DFAT’s advice level for Belgium is the second-highest level issued by the department — its highest alert, “do not travel”, is usually reserved for countries experiencing ongoing conflict such as South Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Iraq.
But UK newspaper The Independent notes that the warning issued by “a ‘friendly’ Western power” such as Australia is “one indication of the magnitude of effect of (the) attacks” in Belgium.
DFAT has also urged Australians already in Belgium to stay indoors, remain where they are and be attentive to their surroundings.
Travellers to Belgium should also check their travel insurance to see if they are covered under the current circumstances.
DFAT has also suggested Australians exercise a “high degree of caution” to travelling to France, where IS unleashed deadly terror attacks in November.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the events in Brussels last night showed no country was immune to terrorist atrocities.
“The lessons continue to be the same after every attack. No country is immune,” she said.
“This is why we are assisting the coalition fight of terrorism at the source in Syria and Iraq.”
DFAT has not changed its travel advice for any other European city in light of the terror attacks.
However, the United States has taken the extraordinary step of urging its citizens to reconsider travel across the whole of Europe.
The US State Department warned that terror groups “continue to plan near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants, and transportation”, and urged Americans to be aware of the risks there.
The UK Foreign Office is warning Britons travelling to Brussels to be “alert and vigilant”.