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Extra police, bomb-sniffing dogs greet PDX, transit passengers in wake of Brussels attacks

COURTESY PHOTO: KOIN 6 NEWS - Armed police officers were more visible at Portland International Airport Tuesday, hours after suicide bombers killed at least 30 people in attacks on Brussels Airport and a transit station near the European Union headquarters.Security was increased Tuesday at Portland International Airport and on public transportation as local law enforcement reacted to the deadly terrorist attacks in Brussels.

Officials with the Port of Portland, which operates the airport, and representatives of TriMet, said extra security added at the airport and to transit probably wouldn’t impact travelers passing through the region. Armed police officers and bomb-sniffing dogs took up posts around the airport on the second day of Oregon’s spring break.

“Even though we have an increased presence here, travelers can really expect all the customary procedures as a result of traveling,” Steve Johnson with the Port of Portland told KOIN 6 News.

Authorities in Europe have tightened security at airports, on subways, at the borders and on city streets after deadly attacks Tuesday at the Brussels airport and its subway system. The attacks killed at least 31 people. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

According to news reports, two explosions at Brussels Airport, one by a suicide bomber, at about 8 a.m. Brussels’ time (about midnight Pacific time) killed 10 people. Nearly an hour later, a bomb at the Maelbeek station in Brussels killed about two dozen people.

The explosions wounded more than 200 people.

The headquarters of the European Union is in Brussels.

Flags at half-staff

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown ordered all flags at public institutions to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Saturday, March 26, out of respect for victims of the terrorist attacks in Brussels.

“On behalf of all Oregonians, I offer my sincere condolences to the people of Belgium and those who lost family and friends in today's brutal attacks,” Brown said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the attacks “an assault against the Belgian people and the very heart of Europe.”

“Our thoughts are with all those in Brussels, including the injured and the loved ones of those who were killed, and with the first responders and security personnel who are working tirelessly to keep Brussels safe,” Kerry said Tuesday morning.

John Kirby, spokesman for the U.S. State Department, told reporters Tuesday afternoon in Washington, D.C., that embassy officials and others were still trying to determine how many Americans were injured in the attacks. Kirby said the department has urged Americans in Brussels to “shelter in place, avoid all public transportation, and contact their loved ones as best they are able.”

“Our embassy in Brussels continues to make every effort to account for the welfare of U.S. citizens in the city, including all government personnel,” Kirby told reporters. “We know that a number of U.S. citizens were injured in the attacks, but we do not have an accurate figure right now. We do not know of any U.S. deaths at this point.”

Portland Police Bureau reported that there are no known threats in the region. FBI officials said they were monitoring the situation in Brussels and there are no known threats in Oregon.

In a statement, TriMet representatives said: “Our hearts go out to Brussels this morning. At TriMet we remain ever vigilant to maintain the safety and security of our transit system. While there are no known credible threats at this time, we remain on alert and our Transit Police officers, including our K-9 teams, have increased their patrols on the system. Our riders play an important role in the safety of the system and we remind them that if they see any suspicious activity to say something. Report it to the police, call 911 or tell a TriMet employee.”

Reporter Kevin Harden contributed to this story.