By Darren Ennis
BRUSSELS- Belgian police were searching for a man who triggered the evacuation of thousands of passengers by fleeing security at the country’s main airport on Thursday, officials said, adding he may have boarded a plane.
The man ran away
from security officers in the international Zaventem airport near Brussels at around 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) after he set off a metal detector, police said.
“He may have actually boarded a plane which took off before the police were informed by the airport security and we closed the terminal,” police chief superintendent Bruno Franckx told Reuters television.
Police and airport authorities declined to give details on the number of flights the man might have been able to board.
Thousands of passengers were delayed by the four-hour closure of one of the airport’s two terminals.
Franckx said police had images of the man from cameras inside the airport.
“We have pictures and we are working out how best to use them. I cannot say what nationality or give details at this time,” Franckx said.
The airport’s A terminal, where the incident took place, handles flights to and from mostly European Union countries covered by the Schengen agreement allowing passport-free border crossings.
A spokesman for local carrier SN Brussels and sister airline Virgin Express said both companies had cancelled all their morning flights from the terminal and several thousand passengers in total were affected by the alert.
“It’s complete chaos,” said a passenger whose flight was cancelled, adding extra security checks were being carried out on travellers including inspection of their shoes.
An airport spokesman said of 82 scheduled morning flights from Zavantem, 24 were cancelled and others suffered long delays. (Additional reporting by Phil Blenkinsop, William Schomberg, Julien Ponthus)