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Sydney Airport grounds flights after smoke detected at air traffic control tower

Sydney Airport grounds flights after smoke detected at air traffic control tower

Planes sit on the tarmac at the terminal for Sydney's International Airport. (File photo: Reuters/David Gray)

SYDNEY: Flights at Sydney Airport were grounded for more than an hour on Friday (Mar 29) after smoke was detected at its air traffic control tower.

The control tower was evacuated, although it was "not in lockdown", air navigation service provider Airservices Australia said.

"There is a full ground stop in place with no aircraft departing or arriving at this time at Sydney Airport," it said at around 12pm local time (9am Singapore time) on Twitter.

Airservices Australia about 20 minutes later said that it had started processing arrivals.

"Aircraft are landing albeit a slower rate. Nil departures at this time," it said.

Virgin Australia said in a tweet that no aircraft was flying in and out of Sydney Airport.

Screengrab from Flightradar24.

Flight monitoring site Flightradar24 showed multiple aircraft clustering around Sydney Airport.

Passengers stuck in the airport and in planes on the tarmac also posted on social media.

Airservices Australia said at 1.19pm that flights have resumed after firefighters cleared staff to return to the tower. 

"We are fully back to operations at Sydney Tower. Departures are running smoothly. All restrictions lifted," it said.

Australia's News.com.au reported that a malfunctioning battery pack attached to the control tower’s computer system had started to smoke at 11.40am, causing the fire alarm to go off. Twenty people were evacuated from the building.

New South Wales Fire and Rescue Superintendent Bryce Jonas told the news site that firefighters were called to reports of a burning smell in the tower.

“The internal components of the battery pack system had started to smoke which created that nasty, electrical burning smell,” he said.

An electrician was called in to get rid of the smoking battery pack, he added.

Source: CNA/jt(cy)

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