The STIB (Brussels public transport) managing director, Brieuc de Meeus, took the decision to close the Brussels public transport network immediately after the Maelbeek station explosion. So explained the company’s prevention adviser, Eric Buslot, to the parliamentary investigation commission.
Mr Buslot was unable to tell commissioners if information regarding the attack committed at Brussels Airport had been communicated to STIB’s dispatch department at that time. The assessment of how the March 22nd events panned out is still in progress within the company.
Last November, during the Brussels “lockdown”, the STIB network was closed at the request of the FPS Home Affairs department. On March 22nd, the decision was taken directly by Mr de Meeus.
Within the seconds following the explosion, the metro’s dispatch department immediately alerted the emergency services, thereby triggering the launch of the emergency plan.
“Our managing director took his decision in the seconds which followed: to close everything immediately. Moreover, that happened,” Mr Buslot added.
The adviser was not alerted about the problem of an evacuation which should have been decided following the Zaventem attack and before that of Maelbeek.
“I will phrase the question the other way. If the first explosion had taken place in the metro would it then have been necessary to evacuate Zaventem? These are questions for which I have no answer. This is within the remit of an agency the job of which is risk evaluation, rather than STIB,” he explained.
The adviser could not state the time necessary to evacuate the Brussels metro. “I cannot answer this question,” he said, before then noting that the evacuation of all 69 stations, took “some time.”
He said that, the intervention of the emergency services panned out without a hitch that day and the various stakeholders reacted straightaway.
Oscar Schneider (Source: Belga)