Hamburg airport shut briefly over 'substance' in the air

BERLIN • The German authorities yesterday briefly closed the airport in Hamburg after a discharge of a corrosive substance caused eye irritation and breathing difficulties among 50 people in a security check area.

Firefighters and ambulances were rushed to the scene in the northern German city after the incident, which occurred in an area where passenger luggage is scanned by security staff.

"The airport was completely closed" at around 1130 GMT, said Mr Maik Lewerenz from the federal police office at the airport, before it was reopened at 1245 GMT.

"There was an odour problem in the central air traffic control area, where passengers and hand luggage are checked. Some people complained of stinging eyes and coughing," he said, adding that "the cause is unknown so far".

Lightly dressed passengers were rushed outside the terminal in freezing temperature but were allowed back in shortly after.

The Bild newspaper reported that an unknown substance was thought to have entered the hall through the air-conditioning system, and that fire brigade experts were seeking to identify the substance.

According to live flight tracking website flightradar24.com, some flights were diverted to other airports after the incident.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2017, with the headline 'Hamburg airport shut briefly over 'substance' in the air'. Print Edition | Subscribe