Ellen Consoles Brussels Victim as Liberian Confirm Dead
Monrovia – Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has signed a Book of Condolence for victims of deadly terrorist attacks on Zaventem Airport, Brussels and the Metro Station near EU headquarters an hour later, leaving at least 34 dead cum over 230 as authorities have confirmed that one of the victims was a Liberian. The sombre signing ceremony took place at the Consulate of the Kingdom of Belgium on Thursday, March 24, 2016 on Ashmun Street in Monrovia.
Speaking briefly, the Honorary Consul of Belgium, Mr. Frederic Vloeberghs, expressed appreciation to President Sirleaf for the heartfelt sympathy extended the Government and people of the Kingdom of Belgium, especially the families of the victims and assured her of Brussels Airlines’ continued commitment to efficient service delivery.
The signing ceremony was also attended by diplomats of European Union, the French Ambassador as well as other members of the diplomatic corps accredited near Monrovia. The victim, Elita Rita Weah, who resides in Holland reportedly had gone missing during the terrorist attacks at Brussels Airport and was said to be on her way to the United States of America to attend her father’s funeral.
A statement from the Liberian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and the European Union with accreditation to Luxemburg and the Netherlands, H.E. Dr. Isaac Nyenabo said that the embassy had been informed of the death of Ms. Weah. “Our condolences go to the bereaved family, the people of Grand Gedeh County, Government of Liberia, the People of Liberia and the Diaspora Liberians. May her soul and the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace.”
Ambassador Nyenabo also reported that most of the Liberians trapped in the unfortunate situation three days ago have left Brussels. “In a counting form, we can now say that at least eight (8) Liberians stranded are still on the territory of Belgium as the result of the blasts. Let us pray for those who are still stranded as a result of delays of flight schedules, hospitalization and timing of reprocessing of their travel documents. We managed to have Liberians on board a train at 6:30 am this morning for Frankfurt, Germany transiting to Liberia on SN Brussels via Freetown.”
Authorities were able to identify the deceased based on a photograph provided by her sister which showed her in a Black overcoat, smiling and standing next to her baggage trolley at the Brussels Airport. The picture was apparently taken moments before the terrorist attacks at the airport.
Many Liberians residing in Europe used the Brussels route for travel. Royal Air Maroc is the only other airline connecting travels from the U.S. and Liberia since the departure of Air France, Delta and British Airways on the eve of the deadly Ebola virus outbreak. Pearl Munah Forbes, a Liberian passenger on a Brussels-bound plane from New York, which landed shortly after the explosion reported on her social media page Facebook that the attack was a wake-up call.
“You may think that this stuff doesn’t happen but it is an everyday situation; you never know when you might get caught up in some bullshit like this. So pray for those who just lost their lives. A lot of people just passed away over bullshit. A lot of people just died over a plain bullshit. Simple bullshit. Your Terrorists, you need to stop that shit, your need to stop that.” Forbes, the daughter of Cllr. Pearl Brown Bull was en route to Monrovia for the first time since 2004, when she returned home to bury her late father, former Chief Justice James G. Bull.
The terror group ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks on an affiliated website, as authorities search for a suspect on the loose. ISIS claimed it “carried out a series of bombings with explosive belts and devices” in “the Belgian capital Brussels, a country participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State [ISIS],” according to the site.
But the claim could not be independently verified and there’s no official word from Belgian authorities. SN Brussels has rerouted most of its flight to Monrovia since the attack, telling passengers on its website that it is doing everything to assist and support its passengers and colleagues. “Brussels Airlines continues to do its utmost to get back to normal operations as quickly as possible in order to bring its guests to their final destination.
However, due to difficult operational circumstances, delays and/or cancellations during the following days cannot be excluded. We therefore recommend all passengers who don’t have an urgent need to travel in the coming two days to review their travel plans if possible. Further updates will be communicated as soon as they are available.”