Published on : Monday, February 13, 2017
Hundreds of passengers were evacuated and more than a dozen flights have been cancelled at Hamburg Airport after some 68 people were injured by a hazardous material that likely spread through the airport’s air conditioning system.
The alarm was raised shortly after 12pm local time (11am GMT), after several passengers complained about breathing problems and burning eyes.
Fire services ruled out suggestions of a terrorist attack, saying they believed the toxin to be pepper spray that had emanated from a cartridge discarded by a passenger in a bin outside security gates.
According to the airport spokeswoman Stefanie Harder, up to 13 flights were affected by the closure, with several planes having to wait on the runway or circle above the city. Two flights were diverted to Bremen, 65 miles (105 km) away.
Road and subway traffic to the airport was also temporarily blocked.
About 1,500 passengers were affected by the incident. They included Uruguay’s president, Tabaré Ramón Vázquez Rosas, whose plane was left stranded on the runway.
Evacuees who were uninjured had to wait outside in freezing temperatures.