Hundreds of people were evacuated Sunday from Hamburg airport, Germany, after dozens of passengers were affected by a substance that authorities said was probably pepper spray disseminated through the air-conditioning system.
Passengers and staff in a security luggage-check area began complaining about a bad smell, burning eyes and nausea around 11 a.m., and many were coughing. More than 60 people had experienced eye irritation and breathing difficulties. Ambulances were rushed to the scene after the incident However, Rene Schönhardt, spokesman for the Hamburg police, said there was “no evidence” that the incident was a terrorist attack. The police believes the injuries most likely stemmed from a cartridge containing pepper spray that was found in a bin provided for travelers to dispose of liquids before boarding. The fire department investigated the scene but nothing dangerous was found. Airport officials said in a statement that an investigation was underway to determine how the substance got into the system. As a consequence of the incident, more than a dozen flights were canceled and all the airport terminals had been evacuated. Flights had resumed as of 1.45 p.m.