A huge fire has engulfed one of the cargo terminals of Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul. The airport was evacuated as black smoke billowed high into the air.International and domestic flights have not been disrupted, although flights maybe slightly delayed, according to the Turkish Transport Ministry.
The computer system has subsequently crashed and passengers are now being checked in by hand.
A total of three people may have been injured in the incident.
Earlier smoke swept across the runway, at this stage flights were asked to circle the western area of the city above the airport in a holding pattern.
The Governor for Istanbul has officially said that the fire is now under control.
Private NTV television has reported that some cargo workers may have been trapped inside the blazing two-story cargo building.
The fire started around 3:40 pm local time. The police are now blocking off the airport entrances.
The fire has not yet spread to the passenger terminal, although a local airport hotel maybe under threat from the blaze.
The authorities have now managed to get the blaze under control.
A total of 250 people were working in the cargo area of terminal C at the time of the fire, Turkish media reported.
The airport on the European side of the city, is the main airport for Istanbul and Turkey. It is also the busiest and the most important airport for the country.
Specialist aircraft normally used for forest fires are being used to bomb the seat of the inferno with water.
The cause of the fire is not known. It is not known whether it was terrorism related.
Media reports suggest the fire could have started from cannisters of fuel or chemicals in the cargo area. The roof of the terminal is known to be made of flammable material. A short circuit may have started the fire—according to TV reports.
There is now an emergency meeting of the Transport Ministry in Ankara.
The airport is not in an urban area and is located on the western fringe of the city.
The airport’s website is:http://www.ataturkairport.com/