There was chaos at the Hamburg Airport, after an ‘’unknown toxin’’ said to have been present in the air, resulted in the evacuation of hundreds of pas
There was chaos at the Hamburg Airport, after an ‘’unknown toxin’’ said to have been present in the air, resulted in the evacuation of hundreds of passengers.
Early Sunday afternoon, the airport in Germany’s third Largest city had to temporarily halt operations, as terminals were cleared and flights were suspended for a short while. The facility was briefly closed when people within the premises began reacting to a substance that authorities believe must have spread through the air conditioning system.
According to media reports, there were complains of breathing problems, eye irritation and nausea from dozens of passengers and some staff who were exposed to the irritant gas.
The German news agency DPA reports that fifty people complained about experiencing breathing difficulties. It was also gathered that about 68 passengers had to be treated after the incident.
The evacuation left hundreds of unaffected passengers confused, as they had to wait outside, under freezing temperature as cold as -4 degree Celsius.
There were special areas set up by firefighters outside the airport, where physicians checked those affected by the substance.
The airport reopened less that two hours after the evacuation took place and according to a spokeswoman from the airport, flights resumed a couple of hours later. This was however, after the disruption had led to the cancellation of 13 flights and the diversion of two flights more than 100km away to Bremen.
Speaking on behalf of the federal police in Hamburg, Maik Lewerenz said that it all began when a bad smell spread from the security area, where passengers and their carry-on luggage are checked.
The cause of the incident was initially unknown. However, after hours of investigation by the fire department and police, it was discovered that the incident was likely as a result of pepper spray released into the air conditioning vent.
At a press conference in the northern city, a spokesman for the Hamburg fire department ruled out the possibility of it being a terror attack. According to him ‘’ As far as we know it was at no period considered a terrorist attack.”
Based on official reports, a cartridge containing the pepper spray was found in a bin were travellers are meant to dispose of liquids that they are not allowed to take along on the plane, before boarding. The cartridge was said to be the size of a lipstick and, according to a statement from airport officials, an investigation to find out how the substance got into the air conditioning system is underway.
Hamburg Airport is the fifth largest Airport in the country, with a traffic of over one million passengers every month. Considering the security issues that Germany has had to contend with in recent times, especially in the wake of the December 19, 2016 attacks on a Christmas market in Berlin, it is not surprising why there were initially speculations as to what caused the incident, especially in the face of rising fear in Germany over such attacks.