Gatwick North Terminal has been evacuated after a terror scare involving a ‘suspicious article’, with bomb disposal experts called to the scene and one eyewitness reporting that there will be a ‘controlled explosion’.
Meanwhile, travellers at the South Terminal are being prevented from leaving as police deal with the incident.
Witnesses said that armed police arrested a man at the North Terminal with a ‘grenade in a bag’ and screamed ‘get down, get down’ before they restrained him.
Police said they were called at around 9.30am on Saturday morning following ‘suspicious actions by a man who discarded an item at the airport’.
In a statement they said that the man was arrested and EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) specialists have been called to the airport to investigate the item.
Eyewitness Tim Unwin, a geography lecturer, tweeted that the north terminal is in a ‘shutdown situation’ and that he’d overheard there ‘might be need for controlled explosion’.
Mari Reynolds tweeted that she’d heard people at the airport, Britain’s second biggest, saying that a ‘hand grenade’ had been found, though police have not confirmed this. It was reported at one point that the suspect was in possession of a gun.
It’s understood that passengers were moved to Jubilee House near the terminal, then a Sofitel hotel. Hotels near the terminal handed out teas and coffees as the drama unfolded.
Mr Unwin added: ‘Very cramped in Sofitel – passengers are now beginning to get frustrated – would like to be given some information.’
Sussex Police told MailOnline: ‘We are dealing with an incident involving a suspicious article and have evacuated the North Terminal as a precaution.’
Detective Superintendent Nick May said: ‘At this time, we are investigating the circumstances of the incident and it is too early to say what the item may be. 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.’
A spokesperson for Gatwick Airport said: ‘Flights are still arriving and departing as normal and we have extra staff on-site looking after passenger welfare.’
The drama at Gatwick followed terrorist attacks in Paris that have left 127 dead.
France was placed in lockdown after at least eight militants, all wearing suicide vests, brought unprecedented violence to the streets of the French capital in the bloodiest attack in Europe since the Madrid train bombings in 2004.
Francois Hollande accused ISIS of orchestrating the worst attacks in France for more than 70 years, declaring it an ‘act of war’ and vowing to ‘mercilessly’ strike back.
Police are also hunting accomplices amid fears of further attacks, with the arrest of a 51-year-old man in Germany last week after firearms were discovered in his car now being linked to the atrocities, according to media reports.
Police have announced additional security at ports and big events in the UK in light of the attacks.
Source: Daily Mail