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Brussels Attacks

Photographer Meets Sebastien Bellin, Victim of Brussels Blast

The jeans are ripped and stained, the long legs collapsed awkwardly over a pool of drying blood. The man, however, appears alert but concerned, touching the top of his hip with his right index finger, as if to check what's intact, minutes after the terrorist bomb tore through the departure lounge of the airport.

Sebastian Bellin
Sebastian Bellin lies on the floor of Zaventem Airport on March 22, 2016. Ketevan Kadava

The victim, Sebastien Bellin, is a Belgian basketball player who had previously played hoops for Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Michigan. The photographer, Ketevan Kardava, a Georgian journalist who captured some of the first images of the devastating blast.

Three days ago, they reunited under happier circumstances at a Brussels hospital. "It was very difficult for me to enter the room," she said. "But he was so kind, and his wife is so sweet."

Kardava brought a stuffed brown bear and elephant as gifts for Sebastien and Sara's children.

Kardava, who was was headed to Geneva on a story assignment when the blast hit on March 22, said she was heartened when Bellin said her photos helped his family. "They knew he was traveling and at the airport. And then they heard about the terrorist attack," she said. "It was a shock for them and then they began to find some pictures and very, very soon after the explosion they found my photo and the knew that Sebastian was alive."

Kardava, who is eager to meet the other people she photographed in that departure lounge, said the meeting — covered by a Canadian TV network — was emotional. "I'm happy that we met, and he told me that I did everything right and not wrong (by taking his photo)," she said.

Kardava said that Bellin underwent several operations on his hip and legs, but she said the family is optimistic. "It's a miracle how he survived."

As for the Georgian journalist, Kardava hopes to stay in touch with the Bellins and maybe have a "symbolic" dinner on the anniversary of the blast next year. "The most important thing is that we are friends."

Ketevan Kardava and Sebastian Bellin
Ketevan Kardava