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“I Dove to the Floor to Take Cover!” Bahamian Student in Brussels Recounts Terrorist Attack

by Lady ArchipelagoMarch 23, 2016

It’s easy to think that terrorism and tragedies of a similar nature that happen around the world have no real impact on The Bahamas. But with Bahamians living, working, studying and travelling all corners of the globe these days, that’s entirely not true. So when the news broke Tuesday morning of deadly terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium many Bahamians questioned if any of our people were harmed.

Here’s what happened according to CNN:

Twin explosions Tuesday at the city’s main airport, and then another one at a downtown subway station, killed 31 people and injured 270 others

Sloan Smith is a Bahamian student at the Free University of Brussels who, thankfully, was not harmed in the attacks. eLIFE242 reached out to the communications major who said she was asleep in her dorm when the first set of bombs went off, but she was startled awake to her university being on lockdown and news of the horror.

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Here is her story:

Everyone here is on high alert. The atmosphere since Tuesday morning has been very tense with people being afraid, and confused not knowing what to expect. When the bombs went off, I was at home still asleep until about 9:45 when I woke up to notifications and messages from my roommates saying to not go anywhere. I live on campus which is the Free University of Brussels so of course my first thought would be that it could also be a target. I immediately checked into Facebook to alert everyone that I was safe and to make sure that my friends were also ok. I kept a close watch on the situation waiting for updates and watching from my room as people moved around campus. The intensity of the situation didn’t quite sink in until there was a supposed threat on campus and students were unable to leave.

Sloan says she was locked in her dorm living room with her roommates watching the news and getting updates, but decided to be alone in her room for a bit to get way from the panicky crowd.

Then around 2 o’clock we heard an explosion and that’s when everything changed and the realization for me sunk in. I literally dove to the floor of my room to take cover. After a while I checked in with the others in the living room. At the point we realized we could not stay there. The university updated that the bomb that we heard was a controlled bomb by the bomb squad. The other dorms were evacuated and the campus was emptying fast. I left campus and I’m now with a friend in Antwerp. I’m safe, a bit shaken…but I’m ok. It’s not something I would have ever thought I’d be experiencing coming here. So it’s all very sobering. I’ve been here since last September and this is my second lockdown in Brussels.

Sloan says things have now returned to some degree of normalcy with the metros, trams and buses back in operation.

People are mostly trying to cope with the fright of it all. The tension in the air is still a bit thick but to me the whole city seems to be in mourning, both for the people we’ve lost and the sense of security. There are military officers roaming the streets and doing searches but they were also doing this after the Paris attack. I don’t know what they are doing and I don’t know what could even be done. How do you stop people who are willing to give their lives for their beliefs taking others with them? It’s a lose-lose situation. It’s scary being so far from home and dealing with something so strange to any Bahamian. Guns, robbery, murder I know of. Unexpected bombings is another thing. The hardest part for me is actually trying to ensure my friends and family at home that I am safe, when I myself am not even sure of that. For now, I’m keeping strong and safe as possible praying that God keeps me through it all.

Sloan says while there’s not much she can do in the face of terrorism she tries to stay aware of her surroundings and go to perceived safe areas with smaller crowds.

That’s really all I can do on my end!