Hamburg Airport Briefly Shut After Corrosive Discharge

"A number of people complained about eye and respiratory irritation", said Maik Lewerenz of the federal police office ad the airport.

Flights have resumed at Hamburg Airport, after an "unknown hazardous material" believed now to be pepper spray, spread through the air ventilation system forcing authorities to evacuate the airport.

Passengers and staff were escorted from Hamburg City Airport on Sunday morning after people began falling ill close to security check points.

Lightly dressed passengers were rushed outside the terminal in nearly freezing temperatures, leaving their coats and jackets behind in the hurry.

Firefighters were examining them to find out whether they had to be taken to the hospital, according to the German news agency dpa.

Instead, he said, the injuries most likely stemmed from a cartridge containing irritant gas that was found in the bin provided for travelers to dispose of liquids before boarding.

The possibility of a terrorist attack has been ruled out, the spokesman added.

"There was an odour problem in the central air traffic control area, where passengers and hand luggage are checked".

Hamburg airport is Germany's fifth largest, with just over a million passengers a month.

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