Hamburg Airport Halts Flights Over Hazmat Incident

Feb 12, 2017

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A ground stop was declared at Hamburg Airport (HAM) earlier today when over 50 people at northern Germany’s largest air terminal reported signs of nausea and discomfort from breathing the air.

The incident began around 12:30pm local time (6:30am Eastern time), when passengers and airport staff working in the central security check area between Terminals 1 and 2 began reporting symptoms of nausea and discomfort. Firefighters were called in to check on those affected, and the decision was ultimately made to evacuate the facility.

During a subsequent press conference held at the airport and streamed on Periscope, officials confirmed nine people remained in the hospital for treatment of their symptoms. The terminal was tested for several potential toxins, with pepper spray being one of the suspected agents in play, but the incident remains under investigation. In a statement on Facebook, the airport confirmed flights resumed at 1:45pm local time after the terminal was cleared.

Airport officials and local authorities have not yet commented if the incident is believed to be an act of terrorism, or some sort of prank. In a statement to the Associated Press, a spokesperson for the airport said it would continue to work with authorities to learn more about what happened. No suspects have been identified in the incident and no arrests have been made.

Despite the ground stop, traffic appears to be unfazed at the airport. According to FlightAware, only 18 flights were delayed by the halt in traffic, with six flight cancellations. Hamburg is the second-largest city in Germany, and its international airport is the fifth-busiest commercial airport in the country.

Feature image courtesy of Axel Heimken/AFP/Getty Images

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