50 affected after unknown corrosive substance spreads at Hamburg’s airport

February 12, 2017 10:30 pm
Hundreds of people have been evacuated from the main airport in the northern German city of Hamburg as some 50 people are reported to have been affected by a corrosive substance spread through the facility’s air conditioning system.
Firefighters evacuated passengers on Sunday from the Hamburg Airport as scores of people complained of breathing problems and eye burns over exposure to an unknown gas.
“We have cancelled all flight at least until 2 p.m. (1300GMT) and most parts of the airport have been evacuated,” airport spokeswoman, Karen Stein, said. She refused to give further details about the potential causes of the incident, but added, “We’re working closely together with the authorities to find out more.”
Other sources including the police said the unknown substance was found in the security check area, without elaborating.
Authorities halted all flights in and out of the airport for several hours while firefighters were examining injured people, who had to wait outside the terminals in sub-zero temperatures, to find out whether they had to be taken to hospital. Special areas were designated to allow physicians examine the affected, reports said.

Firefighters with multiple vehicles stand in front of the airport as passengers leave the terminal on February 12, 2017 in Hamburg, northern , as German emergency services evacuated the airport after people reported an unusual smell as well as respiratory ailments and watering eyes.  (AFP photo)

Websites tracking the flights said some flights were diverted to other airports after the incident.
Germany has seen recurrent security threats by terror groups as well as some carried out by far-right nationalist groups. The Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, which mainly operates in the Middle East region, has claimed several such attacks over the past two years, saying they are a response to Germany’s contribution to military operation against the group in Iraq and Syria.
Many also blame Chancellor Angela Merkel’s liberal asylum policy for the increased security threats, criticizing her decision to allow more than a million refugees into the country since early 2015.
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