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Rome airport in chaos after fire devastates terminal

Rome airport in chaos after fire devastates terminal

ROME: Scores of flights were cancelled and thousands of passengers had their travel plans wrecked on Thursday after a fierce fire devastated part of a terminal at Rome’s Fiumicino airport.

The city’s main airport was closed to passengers for several hours after a blaze triggered by an electrical fault in a bar broke out in terminal three, which is used for international flights.

When the airport reopened, there were scenes of total chaos with thousands of people trying to find out what was happening and frantic airport staff desperately attempting to deal with the backlog and match disorientated and frustrated passengers to seats on waiting planes.

The first departures of the day involving planes carrying passengers did not take place until after 2:00 pm and some carriers saw their entire day’s schedule in and out of the airport wiped out. Three airport employees were treated for smoke inhalation but there were no serious injuries.

The fire erupted shortly after midnight and was not brought fully under control until more than five hours later, by which time the authorities had decided to cancel most of the morning’s flights and close the airport to passengers. A shopping area in the terminal which is home to a string of upmarket boutiques was devastated.

“The bit beyond the security gates where the shops are has been completely destroyed but the rest is usable,” said Lorenzo Lo Presti, the head of Airports of Rome, the private company which runs Fiumicino. The chaotic scenes prompted calls for a probe into why a fire limited to one terminal had caused such disruption over the entire airport for hours.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2015

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