Updated: March 22, 2016 2:56 p.m.
Updated: March 23, 2016 1:37 p.m.
Four LDS missionaries received non-life-threatening injuries in a terrorist attack claimed by ISIS at the Brussels Airport Tuesday morning.
Three elders from Utah were accompanying a French sister called to serve a mission in Ohio to the airport, according to Mormon Newsroom.
Elders Richard Norby of Lehi, Utah; Joseph Empey of Santa Clara, Utah; Mason Wells of Sandy, Utah; and Sister Fanny Rachel Clain of Montelimar, France, were taken to the hospital after the explosion.
Norby was placed in a medically induced coma as he recovers from from a lengthy surgery to address “multiple shrapnel wounds and second-degree burns to his head and neck area and severe shrapnel trauma to his lower leg,” Mormon Newsroom reported Wednesday. A lengthy recovery is expected.
“Our prayers are with the families of the deceased and injured, including three of our missionaries who were injured and hospitalized,” The First Presidency said. “We also pray for the people of Belgium and France as they continue to deal with the uncertainty and devastation caused by the recent terrorist attacks.”
Francesco Di Lillo, head of the LDS Church’s European Union office, said that the injured missionaries were separated and temporarily unaccounted for because emergency responders took them to different hospitals.
“Since the first minutes it was clear what was happening this morning was out if the ordinary local leaders instructed the bishops to call everyone and make sure they were accounted,” Di Lillo said.
Di Lillo said at the same time that there was great concern and effort on the part of Area Leadership and leadership in Salt Lake City to find the missionaries and get the mission president, the stake president and bishops to meet and connect with the missionaries and make sure they are cared for.
He said that the security situation is such that members are not able to participate in any volunteer or recovery efforts.
Security officials informed employers and the E.U. Institutions to shelter in place, according to Di Lillo.
“The atmosphere until 4 p.m. (local time), all you could hear were sirens and you could see soldiers in the street,” De Lillo said. “After 4 p.m. you could see people trying to live their lives.”
He said these actions weren’t ignorant of the day’s events, but rather an attempt to keep the freedom the attacks sought to take away.
No other church members were injured to Di Lillo’s knowledge.
According to the Associated Press, three bombs, two at the airport and one on a subway station, killed at least 34 people and injured nearly 190.
Empey’s parents, Court and Amber, said on Facebook that Empey needs surgery to remove shrapnel from his leg and address second-degree burns.
According to the Deseret News’ LDS Church archives, Elder Norby previously served as the mission president of the Ivory Coast Abidjan Mission with his wife, Pamela, in 2003.
The Deseret News also reports that Norby was in Brussels while implementing the new My Plan program, a reintegration plan for returned missionaries.
Lindsey Anderson served as a Relief Society President of the Orem Young Single Adult 1st Ward while Norby was the president of the Orem Young Single Adult Stake. She lived in the stake for five years and said that he was the stake president for most of the time.
Anderson described Norby as kind, smart and genuine and possessing a special way of connecting spiritually with those in his care.
“He was so deep and profound in his thoughts, and I always looked forward to meeting with him,” Anderson said.
She specifically remembers a meeting they had before she received her temple endowment where he asked questions that aren’t typical to such meeting to help her come to a deeper understanding of the temple endowment.
Gavin Davis, a BYU student, trained Empey from Sept. to Dec. 2014 in the Avry, France, a suburb of Paris.
He described Empey as laid-back and down-to-earth, who enjoyed laughing with other people and at himself.
As a missionary, Davis described Empey as optimistic.
Avry and Brussels, another area where Davis served, have large Muslim immigrant populations, according to Davis.
He said that he has reflected several times on his experience in Avry and Brussels after the terror attacks in Paris.
“It’s an incredibly complicated situation . . . We knew that there were areas that were high Muslim populations and we weren’t really supposed to go there,” Davis said.
He said there were no official rules regarding Muslim neighborhoods, but missionaries were instructed not to initiate proselytizing efforts with Muslims making proselytizing in those neighborhoods difficult.
One man did threaten to kill Davis while he was in Brussels.
“I never really had any crazy experiences,” Davis said. “Honestly, most of my experiences and interactions in those areas were very positive.”
Davis has communicated with Dempey’s family, whom he met several weeks ago.