Asian airports beefing up security after Brussels blast

Asian airports beefing up security after Brussels blast
PHOTO: Reuters

HONG KONG: Airports in Asia, including Tokyo and Seoul, have increased security around terminals following the bomb attacks that killed at least 31 people in Brussels on Tuesday.

Incheon airport, which serves Seoul, is adding about 700 more staff for security monitoring and explosive detection, the operator Incheon International Airport Corp said in an e-mailed statement. Authorities will now closely check areas such as restrooms and trash cans.

Narita Airport in Tokyo has also strengthened patrol of any suspicious objects, said Tsuyoshi Ohtake, a spokesman at Narita International Airport Corp.

Asian airports had already stepped up scrutiny since the Paris terrorist attacks and a suspected bombing of a Russian aircraft by the Islamic State last year.

Much of the security checks at airports have been focused on stopping terrorists from boarding planes, with measures such as full body scans, shoe checks and a ban on almost everything.

Airports that don't require people to undergo security checks until they move beyond the departure hall may now be forced to consider a shift to screening at every entrance.

"There will be increased surveillance and security the moment you arrive at the airport after the Brussels incident," says Shukor Yusof, founder of aviation consultant Endau Analytics in Malaysia.

"You already see the urgency. These are very sensitive issues."

Police in Brussels released a still from closed-circuit TV footage showing three men pushing baggage carts who they suspect were involved in the attack at the airport.

The office of Frederic Van Leeuw, Belgium's federal prosecutor, said two of the men likely carried out suicide attacks, while the third was being sought.

Asia has had its share of terrorist attacks recently.

Indonesia upgraded security at its 192 airports in February, weeks after a deadly bombing and shooting assault by IS militants in downtown Jakarta.

A bomb went off in central Bangkok in August last year that killed 20 people.

Incheon airport, which will maintain its "yellow" alert level that was put out after the November Paris attacks, will also step up screening of passengers' carry-on items, checked-in bags and cargo.

The Airport Authority in Hong Kong has established strict security measures and will keep close contact with government security agencies, according to an e-mailed response to Bloomberg News.

Airport security has been heightened across Australia, the Australian Federal Police said.

All the country's airports have been asked to carry out response plans to armed attack, Minister for Transport Darren Chester said in an e-mailed statement.

Security at the airport and metro stations in India's New Delhi has also been heightened, the Indian Express reported, citing police.

India celebrates Holi, the festival of colour, this week when travel demand is among the highest.

Jet Airways (India) Ltd, the country's second largest carrier, said it received a "security alert" for five flights from New Delhi on Tuesday.

All five flights were grounded and checked, Jet said.

It's the only Indian airline that flies to Brussels.

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