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False fire alarm evacuates Heathrow Terminal 3

July 6, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Delays and disruption yesterday swept London Heathrow Terminal 3 – used by oneworld members like Qantas and by Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and some BA flights – after something triggered a fire alarm and the whole terminal was evacuated.

The emergency evacuation began shortly after midday. A total lack of information led to mass confusion among travellers, followed by major delays. Terminal 3 handles 50,000 passengers a day.

In what appears to be an odd coincidence, busy London Euston station on the city’s Underground line was evacuated moments later. That was also blamed on a false alarm. The station reopened 30 minutes later.

“Just been evacuated from Euston underground. The collective panic was a bit intense,” tweeted best-selling novelist Matt Haig, ‏author of ‘How to Stop Time’.

Back at Heathrow, the London-based Independent spoke with Philip Baum, editor of Aviation Security International, who was waiting to board Qantas flight QF10 to Dubai.

Baum told The Independent: “From an incident management point of view it’s not impressive, to put it mildly. There is absolutely no information.”

Passengers mill at Heathrow Terminal 3

Baum said that the only announcement came from an automated system broadcasting a pre-recorded message, Travellers milled around, obviously confused. If they stopped to look at flight boards to gain information, staff told them not to congregate.

Travellers waiting to board flights were evacuated onto the apron. Those in the check-in area were ordered to leave the building, with passengers who had already passed through security told to follow staff away from the gate area and out on to the apron.

About 30 minutes after the fire alarm went off, Heathrow said an investigation had revealed no fire. False alarm! “Passengers will be directed back into the terminal shortly.”

“Fire alarm going off at #Heathrow and people are just been left to stand around with no idea where to go and airport staff have no idea #WTF,” tweeted Rob Platt.

“Heathrow T3: Virgin Atlantic, Qantas, Delta and many more flights delayed after a false fire alarm halted departures,” Simon Calder added.

Written by Peter Needham

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