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Hamburg airport closed as driver on tarmac remains in dispute with police

Hamburg airport closed as driver on tarmac remains in dispute with police

Flights to and from Hamburg Airport in Germany have been canceled until further notice after authorities responded Saturday evening to an armed man who drove his vehicle onto the tarmac and parked near a plane, precipitating a standoff that continued through the night.

About ten hours after the start of the standoff, which began around 8:30 p.m. local time, police said they made contact with the man inside the car. Police earlier said he was accompanied by a child passenger and believed the situation involved a “custody dispute.”

Police said he walked through a gate onto the tarmac, but declined to say whether he passed security guards.

The man fired at least one shot into the air, Hamburg police spokeswoman Sandra Levgrün said in a statement. an interview published on social networks. She said no injuries were reported. Two small fires were seen on the tarmac early on, although authorities were still trying to determine whether the man started them.

Passengers on board the plane near the vehicle and other planes were evacuated and taken to a nearby hotel, police said.

Video published on social networks showed heavily armed officers escorting a group of passengers across the tarmac to a bus.

The woman who posted the video, Alina Tuider, 32, said her flight back to Vienna was preparing to take off shortly after 8 p.m. when the plane came to a halt.

“We saw armed police crossing the field next to our plane,” Ms. Tuider said in a telephone interview, adding that her flight had been grounded for about an hour at the time. “So we knew something was going on.”

At one point, she thought she heard a gunshot before later learning about the armed driver from the information on her phone.

Around midnight local time, police evacuated her plane and she was then taken to a hotel.

An airport spokeswoman, Katja Bromm, said in an email that police responded to the airport at 8:24 p.m. local time, prompting them to halt takeoffs and landings.

Twenty-seven flights were subsequently canceled, she added, affecting around 3,200 passengers.

In a statement issued shortly before 6 a.m., police said flights would remain suspended indefinitely while the police operation continued and asked people to stay away from the airport.

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Eric D. Eilerman

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