Christmas break put on hold for stranded passengers

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The Independent Online

Stansted Airport was closed last night and all flights suspended, stranding hundreds of passengers waiting to fly out for Christmas breaks.

Stansted Airport was closed last night and all flights suspended, stranding hundreds of passengers waiting to fly out for Christmas breaks.

Some incoming flights were diverted to Luton and other airports serving London after the Boeing 747 cargo plane operated by Korean Air crashed and brought the airport in Essex to a standstill.

Outgoing flights were immediately suspended and passengers were left milling around the airport after being told to wait for further information.

On the M11, where drivers saw a fireball as the plane exploded and crashed in nearby fields, traffic was still flowing, but junction 8 of the motorway was shut for some time.

Homes in the Hatfield Forest area were believed to have escaped damage although the accident took out power lines, leaving about 300 households in darkness. After intermittent power cuts in Hallingbury, firemen warned they may have to cut off electricity supplies. But power was due to be restored to all but two homes within a couple of hours.

At Stansted airport, passengers were shocked to learn that a jumbo jet had crashed. They were being kept informed by announcements, which initially told them that the disruption was caused by a "local incident".

An airport spokeswoman said last night it was unclear when normal service would resume. "It's standard procedure following an incident like this for the airport to close," she said.

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