Brussels Airport Remains Shut as Police Hunt Third Attacker

  • Capacity at Zaventem may be 20% of normal when it reopens
  • Terror suspect Kriket to be questioned by magistrate in Paris

The Brussels airport remained closed on Wednesday as officials completed work on temporary repairs more than a week after suicide bombs ripped through the departures hall.

Airport officials were testing the temporary arrangements to reopen the terminal after the March 22 suicide attacks destroyed the check-in area, shattered windows and brought down much of the ceiling, according to the airport. An assessment of the makeshift check-in and baggage-drop-off system will be made in conjunction with the Belgian government, police and other security agencies, according to airport spokeswoman Nathalie Van Impe.

“There will be no passenger flights into or out of Brussels Airport today,” the airport said on Wednesday in a posting on Twitter.

The temporary system will be able to process 800 passengers an hour compared with the normal 5,000. To restore the check-in area completely “could take months,” Brussels Airport Chief Executive Officer Arnaud Feist told Belgian media earlier this week.

“The structure of the building is intact, but pretty much everything else has been impaired,” Van Impe said. “The damage is extensive.”

Police continue the search for a third suspect in the airport attack, a man in a white jacket seen on surveillance-camera video walking next to the two bombers who blew themselves up in the March 22 assaults. A separate suicide blast about an hour later hit a downtown subway station in the Belgian capital. Authorities said late Tuesday that a total of 32 victims were killed in the attacks.

Federal police released footage on Monday of a third person who may have been involved in the airport attack. The video shows a man in a white jacket wearing a hat and glasses. Police are appealing for information about the suspect.

In a parallel terror investigation in France, the Paris prosecutor’s office said suspect Reda Kriket will be questioned by an investigative magistrate specialized in anti-terrorism on Wednesday. Prosecutor Francois Molins is scheduled to hold a press conference at 7:30 p.m. on the matter, according to a statement from the office. Kriket was a arrested in a police raid last week in Argenteuil, France.

French President Francois Hollande meanwhile dropped planned constitutional changes that would have made it possible to strip those convicted of terrorist offenses of their French nationality. Hollande made the move after the two houses of parliament passed irreconcilable versions of the amendment, and after members of his own Socialist Party said they wouldn’t support the measure.

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