Gatwick Airport Reopened After Scare Following Paris Attacks
A man was arrested on Saturday after seen disposing of suspicious items at Gatwick airport in the U.K.
After the attacks in Paris on Friday, there are heightened security alerts in many places, including the U.K. When a man was seen acting suspicious at Gatwick airport, people took notice. After he was seen discarding a strange item in the garbage, Gatwick officials were forced to evacuate the northern terminal of the airport.
Police were called in to Gatwick airport at approximately 9:30 a.m., Saturday morning.
After investigating the terminal, they discovered a strange package in one of the airport trash bins. Explosive ordnance disposal units attempted to identify the item, and were forced to carry out a controlled explosion for safety purposes.
They did not believe it was a bomb at the time, but due to the terrifying Paris attacks, decided not to take any chances.
“Personal items and what appears to be a firearm were recovered and have been removed for forensic examination,” Sussex police said in a statement to CNN. “However, the viability of the weapon has yet to be established.”
The man arrested in the Gatwick airport was identified as Jerome Chauris, a 41-year-old man from Vendome, France. It was reported by The Guardian that the man appeared to have no fixed address. He had not yet passed through security or passport check points when he was apprehended.
Chauris is due to appear in court on Monday, and is being charged with possession of a knife and a dangerous article in the public airport.
“The man is being interviewed as we try to determine the circumstances of the incident, but at this time it is too early to say what his intentions, if any, were,” said Detective Superintendent Nick May to CNN. “However, given the events in Paris on Friday evening, there is heightened awareness around any such incident and it is best that we treat the matter in all seriousness.”
“We are aware that there is concern about what has happened in France, but the general threat level remains the same and people should be aware as usual of anyone acting suspiciously and report any concerns immediately,” he added.
After the firearm and other items were found in the airport trash bin, armed officers entered the Gatwick airport north terminal in order to evacuate people. Employees and passengers were moved roughly 100 yards away from the building in case the controlled detonation resulted in something more powerful than initially expected. Roads around the airport were also closed.
When it was clear that the Gatwick evacuation would remain in place for several hours, employees and passengers were escorted to the Sofitel London Gatwick Airport hotel.
Tim Unwin, a geography professor at the University of London, was one of the passengers that was relocated to the hotel.
He told BBC that the hotel was severely cramped and the atmosphere was thick with frustration. When people were allowed back into Gatwick airport he said that armed officers were seen patrolling the north terminal and that the Easyjet desks suffered from very long lines as people tried to find the next flight that would take them to their destination.
The roads reopened at the same time Gatwick airport did and a spokesperson for the airport insisted that, “our airlines are now looking at what capacity they have to accommodate people who missed flights earlier in the day.”
“Passenger welfare is our absolute priority,” he added to BBC.
The entire evacuation lasted roughly six hours. Throughout that time, the south terminal of Gatwick airport remained operational. Anyone set to arrive at the north terminal, arrived at the south terminal.
Gatwick airport is now reopened and has returned to normal business.
[Photo by Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images]