Air traffic control tower evacuation causes flight delays in Washington

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Flights to and from the US capital Washington were experiencing delays and diversions on Monday (July 10) evening after an air traffic control tower had to be evacuated because of fumes, the authorities said.

Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) Thurgood Marshall Airport, Dulles International Airport and Reagan National Airport were all impacted following the incident in the town of Leesburg, Virginia.

"Local fire officials directed the FAA to evacuate the Washington Centre in Leesburg, VA at about 6.40pm after fumes from construction work permeated the control room," the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.

"The centre handles high altitude flights over the area. The facility stopped accepting new flights and handed off airborne flights to other air traffic control facilities for safe handling. We are actively working to fully ventilate the facility. We will update the statement when we get new information," it added.

Delays were expected to last well into the night. BWI Marshall said that American Airlines would cancel any flights that "are not currently airborne".