Airport staff members and their families mourn victims outside the block zone of Zaventem International Airport in Brussels, Belgium, March 23, 2016. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan)
BRUSSELS, March 24 (Xinhua) -- A day after terrorist attacks hit Brussels, an event called "free hugs for Belgium" was launched on Wednesday at the city's Place de la Bourse to pay tribute to the victims in the blasts.
Belgium is marking three days of national mourning after Tuesday's blasts at the airport and a metro station killed at least 31 people and wounded 270 others.
Organized online, the event attracted hundreds of people at the same place. "Belgium is bruised after the attacks... However, she wants to get up and to love," an online post on a local website said of the event.
"I don't know about you, but I really could use a hug after all this. Several strangers cried on my shoulders and a hug is worth a thousand words," a young man named Anmand told Xinhua.
Born in Brussels, Anmand had taken part in "free hugs" after Paris attacks. He said after the attacks, people "have to move with the strength to make other feel better."
Elisa Strivet, a Belgian student from LUCA School of Arts, along with several classmates, held free hugs signs high, offering to embrace passers-by. "We're not frightened by the terrorist attacks... We want to show the world we are fine and we are united against terror more than ever," she said.
Audrey Plyler, an American student from ICHEC brussels management school, offered to paint strangers a Belgian flag on their faces. She said many people here are from different countries, so she believed only solidarity can help the world truely defeat terror. "This won't break us!"
Local resident Ahmed el-Jafoufi, an IT consultant, said he offered free food and accommodation to travellers stranded after Tuesday's bombs, and he came here to talk with people in need of help by giving free hugs.
"We should not be suspicious of people because of their religion," he said, "We cannot turn back time but we can make sure the terrorists don't achieve their goal which is to divide us."