26th Apr 2019

Brussels unprepared for terrorist attack

The city of Brussels, home to most EU institutions, is unprepared for a terrorist attack, the governor of Europe’s capital said on Tuesday (26 July).

According to Veronique Paulus de Chatelet, the EU capital’s fire department has not drawn up emergency plans for over six hundred potential soft targets such as hospitals, malls, train and underground stations.

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"Out of 68 subway stations, only 22 have emergency plans in place", Ms de Chatelet is reported to have said in an interview on Flemish radio VRT. "An attack would lead to chaos", she added.

Top officials from Brussel's public transports and the Free University’s hospital played down Ms de Chatelet’s remarks however, according to the Italian website, AdnKronosInternational.

But Brussels fire-fighters admitted that museums, large shops and hospitals are not all up to date with emergency plans, VRT is reported to have said.

The comments were made on the same day as two false alarms were reported in the city, according to news agency AFP.

Authorities closed down part of the Brussels Noord train station in the morning after finding a suspect suitcase, which turned out to be empty.

A key artery connecting the EU district to the city center was sealed off after a bomb threat later that day.

A company also received a telephone call with threats that a bomb was about to explode, prompting the police to seal off the road where the facilities are located.

European Commission spokesman Michael Mann said it is the Belgian authorities' responsibility to secure the EU capital from terrorists.

"If measures do need to be taken, that's to be done by the Belgian authorities and we assume that they will be taken", he told the press on Tuesday.

Prison suicide rates in France highest in Europe

Suicide rates per 10,000 inmates in 2017 in France stood at 12.6, higher than any other European country. The latest figures are part of a much bigger report out Tuesday by the Strasbourg-based human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe.

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