It was chaos and mayhem at OR Tambo International Airport yesterday when scores of passengers and staff were evacuated following what some thought was a bomb scare.
Stranded passengers took to social media to share photos and videos of disruptions at the airport, with some claiming to have heard an explosion or gunshots.
But the commotion was due to a piece of luggage that was left unattended at the airport terminal building near the international arrival hall, the airport’s spokesperson Leigh Gunkel-Keuler said, which prompted them to immediately contact police.
“As part of normal protocol, since we are a national key point and an international airport with thousands of users and staff, we had to call police. As part of safety protocol by police, we had to isolate that area. Even staff were evacuated,” she told The Citizen yesterday.
Videos on social media showed scores of people scurrying around the outside of the building while the police’s K9 unit used dogs to sniff the area.
While some claim to have heard “a loud bang” and explosions, police spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale said it was merely the sound of a “controlled detonation” when the unattended bag was inspected.
“Since it was an unattended bag, which we suspected might have something in it, we had to have a controlled detonation and that is what people heard. Everything is back to normal and we have taken the bag to be checked for evidence,” she told The Citizen.
While operations had returned to normal, Gunkel-Keuler said the hour-and-a-half evacuation process had caused slight flight delays.