Changi Airport fire: Passengers, ground staff spent hours on tarmac

By | May 16, 2017


SINGAPORE: After a three-hour flight from Phuket to Singapore, Adelia Bordessa found herself waiting another three hours on the tarmac of Changi Airport’s Terminal 2, where passengers and ground staff alike were evacuated over a fire that broke out in the terminal on Tuesday (May 16) afternoon.

Ms Bordessa said she was on Silkair flight MI753, which arrived at Terminal 2 at around 6:05pm. She told Channel NewsAsia she could smell smoke – though not heavy smoke – upon arrival. “We were directed to immigration on the ground floor at Gate D/E end of Terminal 2 … then escorted to a side door and then onto the tarmac.”

Passengers, staff evacuated onto the tarmac of Changi Airport Terminal 2. (Photo: Adelia Bordessa)

She estimated that there were approximately 1,500 people on the tarmac, and that buses were ferrying passengers to T3 at about 15-minute intervals.

She did not hear any announcements telling passengers when they might get on a bus, she told Channel NewsAsia.

By the time she boarded a bus at 9:15pm, there were still about 80 to 100 people left on the tarmac, she said.

Passengers, staff evacuated onto the tarmac of Changi Airport Terminal 2. (Photo: Adelia Bordessa)

An employee of ground handler SATS, who declined to be named, told Channel NewsAsia that around 6:15pm, staff members and passengers alike were asked to move out of the transit area and onto the tarmac. These included passengers who were waiting to board as well as passengers who were already on board planes.

Passengers and staff evacuated onto the tarmac of Changi Airport Terminal 2.

Passengers on flights that had been scheduled to depart from the terminal were told to expect”significant delays,” airport management said, adding that all Terminal 2 flights had been moved to Terminal 3 until further notice.

Passengers, staff evacuated onto the tarmac of Changi Airport Terminal 2. 

M Ramarao, 36, an Indian software engineer working in Singapore, was set to take a flight back home with his 18-month-old daughter when they were evacuated.

“I am very worried now because we have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning for my daughter who fractured her arm, so it’s quite urgent,” he told AFP.

“If it’s for one or two hours it’s okay, but they shouldn’t cancel the flight.”

Passengers gather at Changi International Airport Terminal 3 after being evacuated from Terminal 2 due to a fire. (Photo: AFP / Toh Ting Wei)

A Russian tourist who identified himself only as Alexander expressed hope his flight to Moscow would not be cancelled.

“They told us that there was smoke at a part of the airport,” he told AFP.

Airport staff are evacuated from the departure terminal of Changi Airport Terminal 2 after fire broke out there. (Photo: AFP / Toh Ting Wei)

Singapore Airlines said it was “working closely with the airport authority and various agencies to ensure flights can be resumed in the shortest time possible”.

More than 58 million international passengers passed through Changi Airport last year. The airport serves more than 100 airlines flying to some 380 cities worldwide. 



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