Acid Attack in Brussels

Our Flemish correspondent VH has translated this brief account of a recent incident in Brussels. There’s no indication that cultural enrichment played a part in the crime, except for the modus opeerandi, plus the fact that it occurred in the Sint-Jans-Molenbeek district:

From Het Laatste Nieuws:

Woman in peril of death from acid-attack in Brussels

In the Brussels municipality of Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, yesterday afternoon a 45-year-old woman was seriously injured when corrosive acid was thrown in her face. The woman is severely burned and in critical condition in a hospital. A man (neighbor of the woman) with whom she had had a long dispute was arrested, but it is not clear whether he has confessed yet. This is what the Brussels public prosecutor made public.

The attack took place around 14.30 yesterday afternoon in an apartment building at the

Sippelberghlaan [map]. The woman, Carmen L., was in her apartment with a friend when an unknown man, wearing a motorbike helmet and suit, rang the doorbell and said through the videophone that he had a package to deliver for her. Carmen L. went down with the elevator to the entrance hall where the man threw the corrosive acid in the face. He then he pulled her hair and tried to poor the remaining acid down her neck.

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The woman started screaming, after which the offender ran off. Carmen L. managed to stumble out of the entry hall and seek help from a friend who worked in the adjacent building. She then was brought to a hospital with serious injuries. Carmen L. managed to declare that she had a long-running quarrel with a neighbor in the same apartment building. Police after a search of the apartment of the man and also arrested him there. He was remanded in custody by investigating judge Minot, but it is not clear whether he also has confessed to the facts.

4 thoughts on “Acid Attack in Brussels

  1. Does anyone out there know any chemistry? Maybe we can devise a sort of strategy. Like suggest making a little kit of vinegar or baking soda or some easy to find thing that neutralizes acid that women can carry around under their burkas in case they meet a Muslim man on an acid trip.

  2. vlad, it’s a nice idea, but a faceful of any strong acid would probably need a bucketful of cold water thrown over it immediately to make much difference (i.e. wash it off). if the acid were strong and concentrated, you would need an equally strong and concentrated alkali to neutralize it. but of course, that would be an equally dangerous substance. a fire hose is what you would need to save someone like this unfortunate woman, i think.

    by the way, vinegar *is* acidic! it’s dilute acetic acid.

  3. Indeed El. Sulfuric acid is often used in such attacks because it is viscous and clings to the skin. The only way I could imagine reacting in such a situation is chiselling off the acid with the side of my palms and dousing myself with the liter of water that will start carrying around in my bag. Treating such a strong acid with an effective base will cause such an exothermic reaction as to burn the skin more.

    Although, I imagine that sulfuric acid is rather hard to purchase. Working as I do in a chemistry lab, I have never looked for it in stores.

  4. Sulfuric acid is in car batteries at about 2:1 dilution (35% acid). Wipe off quickly and get into cold/cool shower (or hose, or tap, or puddle, or…). NOW! let run at least 15 minutes while someone gets help.
    Good luck. note: gives off heat when mixed with water (exothermic) so a little water is not the best idea. Hot water is a no-no.

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