Brussels residents turned to Twitter to offer people stranded in the Belgian capital rooms and transport after Tuesday’s attacks, claimed by the Islamic State, on the airport and a rush-hour metro train.
A new Twitter account called “Brussels Lift” was created to offer practical help by connecting “people who need to travel with drivers who have empty seats”.
People were using the hashtag #BrusselsLift to ask for rides and offer car spaces in a show of solidarity against the attacks which killed at least 34 people on Tuesday.
“I’m driving from Brussels to Meise (or anywhere else needed) later today, let me know if I can assist,” Twitter user Virginia De Klippel said.
Other offers included #ikwillhelpen (I want to help) and tags such as #PorteOuverte and #OpenHouse, first used to show solidarity with Paris after November’s attacks in which 130 were killed.
Plantu, the celebrated cartoonist for French newspaper Le Monde, drew a figure in the red, white and blue of the French flag hugging another in the red, gold and black tricolour of Belgium, both in tears.
Scores of people gathered on the pedestrian zone in central Brussels to scrawl messages such as “BXL forever”, “We are one”, “Pray for Belgium”, “Let’s take back control of our world”, and “Don’t touch my country”.
Some formed a ring around the Bourse square, taking pictures of the writings.
Facebook also activated its “safety check” feature after the attacks, enabling users to reassure friends and relatives.
People used the hashtags #JeSuisBelge (I am Belgian) and #JeSuisBruxelles (I am Brussels) to express solidarity.
The Brussels blasts, close to European Union institutions, triggered security alerts across Europe and halted some cross-border transport.
Police cordoned off a wide area around the glass and steel EU buildings, putting soldiers on streets that lead down the main avenue through the area where the metro explosion took place and blocked access from Brussels’ main park.
A road tunnel running through the area was also closed. No trams or buses were running and some people walked long distances across the city get home.
Flights in and out of Brussels were cancelled and the city went into a lockdown, with the government urging people to stay put. The Brussels airport will remain closed on Wednesday, CEO Arnaud Feist said