Brussels blasts: Larne student home safe

The group of young people from Northern Ireland who travelled to Belgium as part of the Education Authority.
The group of young people from Northern Ireland who travelled to Belgium as part of the Education Authority.

A Larne student caught up in the terrorist attacks in Brussels airport has been speaking about her traumatic experience.

Courtney McLaughlin, had been part of a group of 17 young people on a trip to Belgium with the Education Authority.

Courtney McLaughlin enjoying her trip to Belgium. (Contributed pic)

Courtney McLaughlin enjoying her trip to Belgium. (Contributed pic)

The group had been in the country since Saturday and arrived at the airport on Tuesday morning to a scene of devastation.

Seventeen-year-old Courtney told the Larne Times that the group missed the train to the airport as a group member stopped to take a photograph, this delay meant they narrowly avoided the blast.

She said: “We got the next train and because of that we weren’t in the airport for the first bomb going off. When we got there it was just complete chaos, everybody was panicking.

“We went up the escalator and you knew that something was wrong, straight away we were escorted down the fire escape. We knew it wasn’t a fire drill but we didn’t know at the time it had been a bomb.

“That’s when the second bomb must have gone off because lots of people were rushing away from the airport. People were holding cloths to their head as they were bleeding. It was very scary.”

Two bombs were detonated at the International airport and a third at the Metro Station in Brussels, killing over 30 people and injuring hundreds more.

Courtney said the group had been at the same Metro station the day before the attacks.

She added that she was extremely thankful for the Education Authority officers who remained calm during the incident.

“I am so thankful to get home,” she said.

“We thought we were going to be stuck in Brussels for at least three days but the Youth Service worked wonders and got us a flight out of Amsterdam.

“They were great in helping us contact our loved ones to keep them informed. They were fantastic.”

More: Newtownabbey students caught up in Brussels blast