Antwerp raises alert levels after diamond heist

Antwerp’s diamond trading industry is reeling in shock after Monday’s multi-million euro heist.

An estimated 80 percent of global trade in rough diamonds passes through the Belgian city, whilst 50 percent of all the world’s polished diamonds are traded in Antwerp.

Many traders, who did not want to appear on camera, told euronews that the robbery was a heavy blow to the industry and that security measures would have to be stepped up.

“What struck us is that in the international airport eight armed men have have access to the tarmac and that is actually what really worries us, we work with Brussels airport because the security level there is normally quite high,” said Caroline De Wolf, of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre.

“I know that a demand for diamonds is very very high and I think that we have a serious chance of never seeng them back,” she added.

Our correspondent in Antwerp, James Franey, says the robbers’ apparent easy escape with their lucrative haul is not the first daring robbery in Antwerp.

“A decade ago an Italian gang broke into a diamond centre in Antwerp, acting on what turned out to be inside information. The ringleader of that gang was an employee. Many traders here in Antwerp’s Diamond Quarter say the Brussels heist was carried out with such precision that they believe that too was an inside job,” said Franey.