Brussels attacks: Briton David Dixon texted family to say he was safe moments before boarding bomb blast Metro

'Our hope is that he's injured and has been taken to hospital and that he’s going to be OK'

A Briton missing in the aftermath of the Brussels terrorist attacks texted his family to say he was safe following the airport bombing but then boarded the Metro train that was blown up killing at least 20 people.

David Dixon, 51, an IT programmer originally from Hartlepool who now lives in the Belgian capital, was unaware the city was under attack until he was told by his aunt. Ann Dixon sent her nephew a text message from her home in County Durham asking if he was alright after hearing about the airport explosions early on 23 March.

“He travelled into Brussels on the Metro every day and after we'd texted he must have gone straight out and got on the Metro that was attacked. It was only an hour later when that bomb went off,” she said.

Mr Dixon, a father of one, replied telling her he was “fine and safe” but the family’s relief turned to horror just over an hour later following the blast at the Maalbeck underground station. He was travelling to work but did not arrive at his office and has not been heard from since. 

His partner, Charlotte Sutcliffe, has been carrying out a “heartbreaking” search of the city’s hospitals in the hope of finding him, but to no avail. The couple have been together since they met at university and have a seven-year-old boy, Henry.

Mrs Dixon said: “As soon as I heard on the news about the explosion at the airport I thought of David and I texted him to ask whether he was alright. It was a relief when he texted back soon afterwards and said he was safe and fine. He said he hadn’t even realised that there had been bombs going off at the airport, I guess it’s because he was getting ready to go to work.

“He told me I was the first person who had let him know. He travelled into Brussels on the Metro every day and after we’d texted he must have gone straight out and got on the Metro that was attacked. It was only an hour later when that bomb went off.

“No one has heard anything from him since and of course we are desperately worried. Our hope is that he's injured and has been taken to hospital and that he’s going to be OK.”

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Mr Dixon first worked for British Airways when he moved to Brussels with Ms Sutcliffe, before moving to car manufacturer Toyota.

Ms Sutcliffe’s sister, Marie, said that Charlotte had been round hospitals in the hope of finding him, while friends were putting out messages on social media asking for anyone who has seen him to contact her.

“Understandably she is very, very distressed,” Marie told the BBC. “Not everybody has been identified yet, of the injured, so it’s waiting for that process to happen. Everybody is struggling with communication there, or they were yesterday, with phones being down and there being a lockdown.

“When she was at the hospital, she had an interview with the police so they’ve got all the details now. It’s just waiting. It’s heartbreaking and very worrying.”

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