The explosion was so big, she hardly heard anything. She only realised what was happening after the piece of metal had pierced her body. Erzsébet Krahulecz, one of the Hungarian casualties of the Brussels blasts was at the airport when the terrorists set off the bombs, reports.

Hardly any time passed between the two blasts, she says. After the second explosion, everyone who could was trying to escape, only the dead and the seriously wounded were on the ground. Ms Krahulecz could not move either, since during the first blast a 10-centimetre piece of metal had damaged her pelvis. She was conscious all throughout the events. She had been standing only a couple metres away from the first terrorist; everything happened so quickly, no one could prepare for it.

She says she was lucky because she was already on the ground when the second explosion went off so the shrapnel from that blast could not reach her. Had the 10-centimetre piece of metal hit her further up her torso, it could have damaged vital organs. If it had hit further down, it could have cut an artery, which is particularly dangerous because the injured can bleed out very quickly. Terrorists often put pieces of metal in the bombs, such as nails or screws, so the flying shrapnel can cause even more damage.

After 10-15 minutes, the first soldier arrived and helped her out of the terminal. The casualties were later taken to a hangar. She says, the injured were incredibly afraid that there would be more explosions at the airport. They waited for at least an hour before the ambulance arrived. Depending on the degree and nature of the injuries people were taken to 28 different hospitals in Belgium. Ms Krahulecz was taken to an Antwerp hospital specialising in gunshot wounds and severe burns.

She says, every victim in the hospital received special attention and their care was top priority even during the Easter holidays. In her surgeries, she says, first they removed the bigger pieces of metal and the smaller shrapnel, which the police collected for investigation. Then, during the second surgery, they tended the injured bones. The doctors say she is expected to make full recovery.

Erzsébet Krahulecz is working in Brussels as director of regulatory and public policy at Ernst & Young, a company providing audit and tax advisory services. She used to work as economic attaché for the Hungarian Embassy in London, for which she received the Hungarian Golden Cross of Merit in 2014.

She says, the most important thing in situations like this is human relationships and people’s personal presence and care, which gave her strength for her recovery. The help of her co-workers, the CEO of her company, global and regional colleagues, and the support from both the Brussels and the Budapest office meant a lot to her. The Belgian Queen, Mathilde has visited her in the hospital, and the Hungarian ambassador to Belgium and the consul have called her as well. They offered her to continue her recovery in Hungary, but she chose to stay in Belgium because of family ties.

Ms Krahulecz says she has been thinking about the changes the physical and psychological injury of the terrorist attack will induce in her personal life. She says it is important to consider where Europe is heading. “In the coming times, Europe’s security has to be top priority, which means that cooperation between countries has to be strengthened.”

She says the terrorist attacks pose an ongoing threat for Europe, for which European countries and their leaders have to find an urgent solution together. The emphasis should be on cooperation and the sharing of information as a preventive measure. “This is not an issue for the future, the danger is here, the threat is significant, and it has to receive special attention.”

She also said that people cannot let fear govern them. We have to create a safe and healthy environment for ourselves and for our children.

Copy editor: bm


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