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Local college students in Belgium are safe

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Posted at 11:26 PM, Mar 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-23 06:07:31-04

It was mayhem at the height of rush hour in Brussels.  Two bombs exploded at the airport and another blast at a busy metro station.

During the attacks, students from Loyola University were in Leuven, about 19-miles East of Brussels.

"I woke up to just a CNN update on my phone, and all it said was there were two explosions in Brussels Airport, and there really wasn't any other information other than that,” David White said.  “So I didn't really know the scale or significance of what happened yet."

See also: Islamic State claims responsibility for Brussels attacks

David and his roommate Calix O'Hara say there were a lot of empty seats in class Tuesday, and a somber mood as more information about the deadly explosions, and manhunt for the bombers unfolded.        

"In my first class we took a moment of silence for the victims of the attack, and after that, the rest of my classes got canceled,” O'Hara said.

The college juniors have been in the Western European city since August with 12 other students from Loyola University.  Since the November terror attacks in Paris, White and O'Hara say they've followed the raids and arrests happening in Belgium, and tell us the Brussels bombings weren't a huge shock.

"It was pretty clear it was some sort of terrorist attack,” White said.  “And given the past couple of months here in Western Europe, it wasn't that surprising to me."           

See also: Brussels has become a target of terrorism, but why?

Belgium has raised its terror threat to the highest level, and extra soldiers have been brought in.

White and O'Hara even saw increased security in Leuven.

"They brought some of the victims from the bombing in Brussels to the hospital here in Leuven, and I did see four police officers posted outside the entrance to the hospital," O'Hara said.

The pair says they never felt threatened Tuesday in Leuven, but were more concerned with people they know who were traveling in Brussels.