At least two American citizens have been confirmed killed in this week's attacks in Brussels, a U.S. official said Friday, as Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting the city to express his condolences to the Belgian people.
The victims' family identified them as two siblings from New York City.
Alexander and Sascha Pinczowski, Dutch nationals who lived in the U.S., were headed home to the states when a bomb exploded at the airport Tuesday. Alexander, 29, was on the phone with his mother in Holland when the line went dead, said James Cain, whose daughter Cameron was engaged to Alexander.
"We received confirmation this morning from Belgian authorities and the Dutch embassy of the positive identification of the remains of Alexander and Sascha from the terrorist bombing at the Brussels Airport," Cain said on behalf of the Pinczowski family. "We are grateful to have closure on this tragic situation, and are thankful for the thoughts and prayers from all. The family is in the process of making arrangements."
Alexander had traveled to Holland to work on a craft-related business that he and Cameron were going to start together, Cain said.
The couple met six years ago while taking summer courses in Durham, North Carolina. They hadn't set a wedding date but had planned to marry within the year, Cain said.
He called Alexander "intimidatingly smart, a brilliant young man."
Sascha Pinczowski, 26, was a 2015 graduate of Marymount Manhattan College in New York with a degree in business. She spent last summer as an intern at a catering company, Shiraz Events.
Shiraz Events President Shai Tertner called her "a bright, hardworking young woman, with a great career ahead of her."
The bombings in Brussels at the airport and in the subway killed 31 people and injured nearly 300.
Speaking after meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, Kerry said the "United States is praying and grieving with you for the loved ones of those cruelly taken from us, including Americans, and for the many who were injured in these despicable attacks."
A senior official said Friday the families of two Americans had been informed of their deaths in the attacks. The official, who was not authorized to speak to the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, did not have further official details.
"The United States stands firmly with Belgium and with the nations of Europe in the face of this tragedy," Kerry said, adding that the world will not relent in its fight against the Islamic State group, which has claimed the attacks.
"We - all of us representing countless nationalities - have a message for those who inspired or carried out the attacks here or in Paris, or Ankara, or Tunis, or San Bernardino, or elsewhere: We will not be intimidated," he said. "We will not be deterred. We will come back with greater resolve - with greater strength - and we will not rest until we have eliminated your nihilistic beliefs and cowardice from the face of the Earth."
Michel thanked Kerry for his visit, calling it a powerful message of solidarity. "It is very important for us today to receive your support," he said. He offered condolences for the American victims and vowed to step up counter-terrorism cooperation with the U.S. and others.
Kerry said he offered the prayers of the American people for "these people who have suffered inconceivable losses."
"Those whose lives were torn apart this week were not combatants in any conflict," the secretary said.
Kerry landed earlier Friday at the still-closed Brussels airport for a brief, hastily scheduled stop from Moscow, where he said the attacks underscored the urgency of unity in the fight against the Islamic State group. The group has claimed responsibility for Tuesday's bombings.
The Belgian Embassy, not long after Kerry's arrival, sent a Twitter message calling his stop here an example of "the solidarity of the American people which goes right to our heart."
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) March 25, 2016
— Charles Michel (@CharlesMichel) March 25, 2016