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Henderson couple describes bombing at Brussels airport

When a terrorist’s suicide bomb exploded at a Brussels international airport check-in counter Tuesday, Philippe Breyer and his wife, Catherine turned heel and quickly walked away.

But then a second bomb detonated, tearing his leg off.

The Breyers fell to the floor as the ceiling collapsed. Eventually, a soldier would wrap Philippe’s leg and pull the couple to safety. On Thursday, the Breyers told a Belgian news website they were grateful to their helper and glad to be alive, and together.

According to the video, filmed from an unidentified hospital, the Breyers were planning to fly from Belgium, where he works as the business development head for Euroclear, a securities settlement group, to Las Vegas. They have a home in Henderson.

The Breyers told DeRedactie.be their story in a video news clip posted Thursday.

Philip verloor een been bij de aanslag in Zaventem.Een militair redde zijn leven. Zijn dankbaarheid is groot.

Posted by VRT deredactie.be on Thursday, March 24, 2016

According to translations of the video by Christian Witkin, a Dutch-American photographer living in New York and Annemarie Coevert, a senior officer at the Netherlands Consulate General in San Francisco, the Breyers immediately suspected an attack after hearing the first blast.

“We heard the explosion from the Delta check-in, so we decided to walk the other direction. But we didn’t get far because the second explosion was five to 10 seconds later,” Catherine, 57, said in the video. “We felt the explosion was roughly 5 to 10 meters away from us when we felt a bomb explosion hitting the back of our legs.

“Fortunately, we didn’t look back. We kept on walking fast away from the explosion but there were other people there who dropped on the floor and weren’t as lucky. Eventually, Philippe and I both fell to the floor, and the ceiling fell on top of us. But we stayed together.”

Catherine said she saw Phillipe, 59, was worse off than she was. A good part of his leg was blown off and she knew it would be difficult to salvage.

“At that point, I was hoping that help would come fast and that there would not be a third explosion,” she said on the video.

Philippe said soldiers on site were the first to rise above the debris. Catherine flagged one down, and he came to strap off Philippe’s injured leg.

“We are very grateful to the soldier who helped us,” he said.

She added, “We want to thank him.”

The Breyers said the first day after the explosion, they felt optimistic, not pessimistic.

“For us, the first day was all about celebrating life,” Catherine said. “We are breathing. We are alive.”

Philippe said, “It might take us a while to digest all this but we feel lucky.”

Many people posted comments on the DeRedactie video. Marleen Haerens wrote, translated, “I have seen this clip this afternoon in the news. Tears ran down my cheeks. What beautiful people.” On Thursday, the Breyers posted a thank you note on Catherine’s Facebook page.

“To all our amazing families and friends around the world, thank you, thank you for the love and support after the bombings in Brussels on Tuesday,” she wrote. “We are doing ok and we will be fine. Philippe is strong and positive and we have been surrounded by the best help givers, doctors, nurses. And by so much love. It was impossible to respond personally to all of you and I am very sorry about that but we will never forget the outpouring support. Love. Catherine and Philippe.”

Contact Matthew Crowley at mcrowley@reviewjournal.com. Find him on Twitter @copyjockey

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