Govt orders probe into fire at Chennai ATC

Air traffic at the Chennai Airport was crippled for nearly three hours early on Tuesday as a fire in the Air Traffic Control (ATC) building made arrivals and take-offs, largely of international flights, impossible.

Several in-coming flights from abroad were consequently diverted to Bangalore and Hyderabad airports until operational normalcy was restored.

Airport and Fire Services sources said it was a “minor fire”, believed to have been triggered by a short-circuit in the UPS battery system in the radar control room on the third floor of the ATC building.

The smoke was noticed around 2:30 am, sources said, adding, the ATC personnel, after intimating Airport authorities, immediately alerted the state Fire and Rescue Services.

Three fire tenders rushed to the spot, but could only give back-up support as using water cannons to extinguish the fire in a room filled with electronic and computer equipment would have caused more damage.

 With the dry extinguishers already on hand, the ATC men using dry chemical powder quickly put out the fire and ventilated the affected room for over an hour, sources said. Around 5:15 am, operations at the ATC were normalised and they were ready to handle both arrivals and departures.

The first domestic flight scheduled for departure from Chennai was around 5:20 am, sources said.

Earlier, at least five international flights, including four Gulf Air, Qatar, and Air India flights scheduled to land in Chennai were sent to Bangalore, even as one Indigo flight was diverted to Hyderabad, sources said. In the mean time departures were not allowed.

While domestic departures from Chennai by and large continued to be on schedule.
Sources said, domestic arrivals were delayed till 8:30 am, after which all operations were cautiously normalised. A High-level probe will be ordered into the mishap, an official added.

The incident caused additional anxiety as a dawn-to-dusk Tamil Nadu bandh had been called by some political parties over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Air India on Tuesday launched a “60-day advance purchase fare (Apex) Scheme”, aimed at the leisure and holiday market. The initiative will benefit travellers planning their trip in advance.

Tickets for travel on various Air India routes, commencing 60 days and beyond from today, will be available at attractive prices, the airline said in a statement. For instance, the all-inclusive 60-day advance purchase fare on the Delhi-Mumbai sector is Rs 3,981 and on the Delhi-Lucknow route it is Rs 2,566.

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