50 flights delayed, 9 flights diverted from Changi Airport after fire alarm sparks evacuation at control tower

The Changi Control Tower had to be evacuated as the fire suppression system was activated. The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said there was no fire and investigations are ongoing into the cause of activation.
The Changi Control Tower had to be evacuated as the fire suppression system was activated. The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said there was no fire and investigations are ongoing into the cause of activation.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Airport giving out free refreshments at baggage belts.
Airport giving out free refreshments at baggage belts.ST PHOTO: YEO SAM JO
Stewardess giving out water.
Stewardess giving out water.ST PHOTO: YEO SAM JO

SINGAPORE - The travel plans of some passengers at Changi Airport were disrupted early on Thursday (Jan 23) morning after the fire alarm at the control tower went off, causing the tower to be evacuated.

Between 12.10am and 1.40am, air traffic control services were “provided from back up positions,” said Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) director of air traffic services Rosly Saad in an e-mail statement on Thursday.  

During that period, 50 departure flights were delayed by 30 minutes or more and nine arriving flights were diverted. 

Mr Rosly did not elaborate on what these back-up positions were, but he noted that there was no fire in the control tower and investigations on why the fire alarm was activated is still ongoing.

The Straits Times understands that some flights were diverted to Hang Nadim International Airport in Batam and others to Kuala Lumpur International airport.

Passengers took to social media to voice their frustrations, saying that they had little clue as to what was happening while the incident was ongoing.

Mr Chris Lian, a 35-year-old chef who was on his way back to Singapore from Bangkok and whose plane had to wait on the tarmac after landing in the airport, told ST he could not recall a similar incident in recent memory.

He noted however that although he was "pretty shocked" when he first heard the announcement, he still felt that "safety is still the most important".