Travel chaos as fire hits main airport in Rome

DOZENS of flights were cancelled and thousands of passengers had their travel plans wrecked yesterday after a fire partially destroyed a terminal at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.

The 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.

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,” Lorenzo lo Presti, the head of Airports of Rome, said.

Firefighters said it could take several days to make the area hit by the fire safe. Police do not suspect foul play.

There were angry scenes at Rome’s main railway station where thousands of passengers arrived to find that all trains to the airport, which is on the coast about 30km west of the city, had been cancelled.

The first planes carrying passengers were not due to leave until after midday and airport authorities were hoping normal service would have resumed later last night.

That looked optimistic, with chaotic scenes at terminals one and two, where a backlog of thousands of passengers had built up by early afternoon.

– AFP

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