As authorities locked down the Belgian capital after explosions rocked the Brussels airport and subway system early Tuesday, killing at least 34 people and injuring many more, the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) expressed its horror at events.
In an e-mailed statement, the WFDB sent its condolences to the families of the people killed in the bombings, wishing those injured a speedy recovery.
“It was with enormous shock that I heard about the bombings in Brussels,” said “As many thousands of members of the diamond industry around the world, I have passed through the departure halls of Brussels Zaventem airport scores of times as I left Belgium after meetings or business in Antwerp,” WFDB President Ernie Blom said.
“Seeing the images on television and the Internet of the wrecked check-in counters therefore brings home to all of us even more strongly the shocking nature of this cowardly attack on innocent people,” he added.
“I have not heard of any members of the Belgian diamond industry being victims of these attacks and I hope that continues to be the case. As with many other diamantaires, I have very many friends in Belgium. Indeed the WFDB’s offices are based in Antwerp. On behalf of the WFDB and its members across the world, I send our sincere best wishes to the Belgian public,” Blom noted.
Antwerp, located about an hour north of Brussels, remains the world’s largest diamond-trading hub, according to figures recently published by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, a body that monitors world production and distribution of this precious mineral.
Diamonds worth a total of $5.1 billion were imported to and exported from Antwerp last month, based on the trade of 25 million carats of rough and polished diamonds. The figure represents a 38% increase in terms of volume terms and a 4.5% in value when compared to data from Feb. 2015.
Belgium is on high alert following the attacks this morning. Access to Antwerp’s diamond bourses has been restricted and industry events scheduled for Tuesday have been cancelled.