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Blaze engulfs Istanbul airport
Cat : Condolences Of Today
Date : 2006-05-24 18:24:31                      Reader : 356

CNN.COM 25/5/2006

Blaze engulfs Istanbul airport


ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) -- A massive fire has engulfed part of Istanbul airport, injuring three people but not causing major air traffic delays, Turkish officials said.

A transport ministry official said the blaze, which broke out in the cargo section of Ataturk Airport, was under control and that flights would continue.

Three people were hurt in the blaze, Istanbul’s deputy governor Fikret Kasapogru told Turkey’s NTV.

He said the fire was believed to have been caused by the miswiring of electrical systems in a cargo area of the airport, and may have caused secondary explosions causing the fire to quickly spread.

Private NTV television reported that the fire began in a section where fuel depots were located, according to The Associated Press. Electrical work was being carried out at the time, one witness said.

Thousands of people were forced to flee from the blaze and another witness told NTV it was unclear whether anyone remained in the cargo area. (Watch giant orange flames covered in smoke fill the sky -- 1:00)

The blaze broke out at 3:30 p.m. (1230 GMT) in the cargo area of Terminal A, which is about 1,000 meters (yards) from the main passenger terminal, a witness told NTV.

Hundreds of people gathered along the perimeter of the airport to watch the scene.

Thick plumes of smoke billowed about 30 meters (100 feet) into the air, television footage showed. Kaya Heyse, a producer for CNN’s sister network CNN Turk, said the smoke could be seen from all over Istanbul.

He said the fire was contained in the cargo section of the airport, although it briefly threatened a hotel near the airport. Firefighters tackled the blaze as planes doused water from the air.

Aided by winds blowing in the opposite direction, hundreds of firefighters worked to keep the flames away from a building near the cargo area that contained fuel tanks.

An airport worker said computer systems were shut down, but flights were continuing, with workers using manual systems to check people in and out. Priority was being given to landing planes and delays were expected for departures, she said.

"The fire is under control and we’re taking precautions to prevent it from spreading to passenger terminals," Baris Tozar, the undersecretary of the Transportation Ministry, told AP.

"There are no problems concerning flight security," Tozar added.

Airport director Irfan Balta said planes had been moved away from the fire, according to AP.

More than 10 million people live in Istanbul and the airport is the country’s largest.

CNN Turk Producer Kaya Heyse and journalist Gokhan Guvenc contributed to this report.

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