|Hamburg Airport - evacuated ...|
German firefighters have this morning (SUNDAY) evacuated hundreds of passengers at Hamburg Airport after an initial fifty then another nineteen people were affected by an unknown toxin that is thought to have spread through the airport's air conditioning system.
A police spokesman later confirmed a suspicious gas or toxin - possibly pepper spray - was found during a security check after staff and passengers complained of irritated eyes and respiratory problems.
Reports claim an irritant type gas cartridge was found in a waste rubbish bin near the security area, suggesting a passenger or staff member possibly mistakenly activated the contents, sprayed gas then threw away the leaking container.
Julian Bray an Aviation Expert and Broadcaster commented: "The airport would have immediately invoked a major incident protocol, which automatically alerts local hospitals, ambulances and paramedics. Within minutes Doctors and paramedics would have been deployed.
"The authorities whilst not immediately confirming any terrorist involvement, would initially treat it as a full emergency, until the cause of the 'toxin attack' can be fully established, the source made safe, and the atmosphere 'scrubbed' and fit to breath."
German news agency DPA initially reported that fifty people complained of breathing problems and eyes burning. the numbers affected later rose to 69 transferred to nearby hospitals. Firefighters and Doctors triaged affected passengers and airport workers; then medevac'd an initial fifty to hospital. Airport buildings were totally cleared and people assembled on the tarmac outside the terminals in sub-zero weather conditions. A spokeswoman for the Airport said: “We have cancelled all flight at least until 2 p.m. (1300GMT) and most parts of the airport have been evacuated.”
JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Analyst/expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 www.aviationcomment.com