When Rennaat Marchard woke at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing on the news.
Flashing across the screen were images of the bodies of people who were wounded in a terrorist attack in Belgium’s capital city Tuesday morning.
Brussels was hit by a pair of bombs that exploded around 7 a.m. local time — one at the departure area of the Zaventem international airport and another roughly 40 minutes later at the Maelbeek subway station near the headquarters of the European Union. The bombs killed at least 31 people and wounded as many as 190.
The Islamic State group has since claimed responsibility for the attack, saying its members detonated suicide vests.
Marchard is the owner of Wannawafel in Market Square and moved to Victoria 16 years ago from Opwijk, a city roughly 20 kilometres outside Belgium.
He was shocked when he found out about the bombings.
“It’s unbelieveable for the people in Belgium and the world. I think the world is shocked when they see this kind of act. It’s innocent people who are the victims here,” Marchard said.
Marchard’s daughter is currently travelling in Europe, but was able to text message her father to let him know she was okay. His two sisters and mother are also in Belgium — his sister was on her way to work in Brussels, but was not injuried in the blast.
“It’s strange to say that I’m almost not surprised anymore. There’s a lot of shock,” he said. “The fact that this happened is not a shock to me.”
A month ago, Marchard returned to Belgium to visit his mother and even then noticed heightened security in the airport where the attacks occured.
Now, the family is thinking twice about heading to Europe. Marchand’s son originally planned to head to France for the Euro Cup in June, but has since cancelled the trip.
The bombings come a few days after a fugitive from November’s Paris attacks was arrested after a shootout with police in Brussels.