Hamburg airport halts flights, evacuates in bad air scare

German firefighters on Sunday evacuated hundreds of passengers at Hamburg Airport after about 50 people were injured by an unknown hazardous material that likely spread through the airport’s air conditioning system.

All flights were halted for several hours due to the evacuation, but air traffic started running again around 2 p.m., airport spokeswoman Karen Stein said.

More than 50 people — both passengers and staff — had complained about breathing problems, burning eyes and nausea. Firefighters were examining them to find out whether they had to be taken to the hospital, the German news agency dpa reported.

Those who were evacuated from the airport but not injured had to wait outside the terminals in freezing temperatures.

Firefighters designated special areas outside the airport building where physicians were examining those injured by the unknown substance.

The cause for the incident was not known, Stein said, “but we’re working closely together with the authorities to find out more.”

hamburgtoxin_small Hamburg airport halts flights, evacuates in bad air scare World News

Officials Say Hamburg Airport Scare Was Likely Pepper Spray

Hundreds of passengers at Hamburg Airport were evacuated and more than a dozen flights canceled after some 68 people were injured by a hazardous material that likely spread through the airport’s air conditioning system.

The airport said in a statement that police and firefighters had concluded from their initial investigation the substance most likely was pepper spray. Authorities still are working to determine how it got into the airport’s air conditioning system, the statement said.

The 68 injured people — both passengers and staff members — had complained about breathing problems, burning eyes and nausea.

All outgoing and inbound flights were halted for about one hour due to the evacuation and unknown health hazard; 14 flights were canceled altogether and several planes also were diverted. Air traffic delays continued throughout the afternoon.

Evacuees who were uninjured had to wait outside in freezing temperatures.

Firefighters designated special areas outside the airport building where physicians examined people with physical symptoms of exposure.