Three American students studying in Ireland were among those who survived the bombing in Brussels International airport early Tuesday morning.
Cate Duffy, 19, of Natick, Lauren Cleary, 19, of Abington, and Monica Hall, 19, of Sutton, are all from Massachusetts and all students of Quinnipiac University in Connecticut but have been living in Ireland since January where they are completing an occupational therapy internship with University College Cork.
The three young women were visiting Brussels over spring break and were due to board a flight to London to see Adele perform when the first bomb exploded.
"We didn't see it, and we didn't really realize what was going on," Duffy told WCVB.
"Before we could even process it, the second (bomb) went off right in front of us."
Describing the terror in the airport after the bombs exploded, Duffy said, “At that point, everyone just started running and screaming.”
Succeeding in staying together, the three students began to make their way out of the airport.
“I had my bag with me for probably 5 or 10 seconds of the commotion,” said Hall. “Then I tried to start picking up speed and running, and I realized that just wouldn’t work and my bags just weren’t important enough to get me killed. So I just dropped them, and we ran out of there as fast as I could.”
Cleary rang her parents as the chaos continued, the calls coming in close to 4am Massachusetts time.
“My wife answered the phone and she started screaming,” Lauren’s father Richard Cleary said.
Running from the building, they made their way to a safe distance from the airport, hailing down help from a Belgium man with a car who brought them from the airport to the US embassy.
"I was looking at all the cars, kind of like, 'Help me,' because we didn't really know what to do," Cleary said. "There was nowhere else we could go. There was this one guy, he looked at me and I looked at him kind of like, 'Come on. Help me.'"
"He stopped his car and I went up to him and said, 'Could you please, please, please just take us anywhere that's not near the airport? We're desperate. Anywhere is safer than here.' And he said 'Yeah. Get in.' So we all just piled into his car and he was with his son. They were both from Belgium. They were super nice and shaken up as well."
The three students reached the US embassy, where they were interviewed by the FBI, and from where they were able to call their families and let them know they were safe. They stayed overnight with a member of staff at the embassy.
"We felt safe there," Cleary said. "That was awesome. One of the families there offered (to let) us to stay at their house for the night."
The next step for the three women and how they will get back to Ireland is currently unclear but Lauren Cleary’s family are set to meet her in Ireland for a prearranged trip.
It is believed that there was a fourth Quinnipiac student in Brussels at the time of the attack who has also been reported as safe.
Another American teenager emerged from the attack on Brussels International Airport with third degree burns to his hands and shrapnel wounds to his lower legs just three years after he witnessed the Boston marathon bombing.
Mormon missionary Mason Wells, 19, was dropping a friend off at the airport when he was injured by the bombing. In April 2013, he had been in Copley Square, Boston, supporting his mother running the marathon when the bomb exploded just blocks away.
It is currently believed that a total of nine Americans were injured in the terrorist attack in the Belgian capital yesterday, for which Islamic State have claimed responsibility.
At least 31 were killed in separate blasts in the Zaventem airport and on the metro train, and a further 270 are believed injured.