Major Sicily airport shuts due to huge wildfire

 Wednesday, July 26, 2023

A fire broke out early Tuesday on the Italian island of Sicily near Palermo’s airport, forcing it to temporarily shut down.

The blaze, which started above the town of Cinisi, reached the edge of the Falcone Borsellino Airport, forcing authorities to halt all air traffic until 11 a.m., the airport announced on social media, as pictures from the scene showed soaring flames near the airport perimeter.

Sicily has faced scorching temperatures, amid a powerful heat wave that has impacted much of Southern Europe.

The sizzling heat threatening lives and fueling wildfires this summer would have been virtually impossible without man-made global warming, scientists said on Tuesday.

On the Italian island, the mercury reached 47.6C on Monday in Catania on the east coast, according to an Italian newswire.

The northern part of Italy has also witnessed severe storms that resulted in damage and claimed two lives.

In response to the major blaze encroaching upon the airport in Sicilian capital, authorities decided to halt all operations until 11 a.m. local time.

Numerous flights to and from the airport were cancelled, amounting to over 70 wildfires reported in the region within the last 24 hours.

Some flights were redirected to Trapani Airport, while others experienced delays until further notice.

A sigh of relief swept through the air when the airport announced its reopening shortly before 11 a.m., albeit operating with a limited departure service.

A social media update read, that the airport in Palermo has reopened.

Currently, only a limited number of departing flights will be allowed. For arrivals, weather conditions are being monitored.

The wildfires are transpiring amidst a severe heatwave engulfing southern Europe, elevating the risk of fires and fatalities.

In addition to the challenges posed by wildfires, the aviation industry also faced setbacks, with a Delta flight travelling from Milan’s Malpensa Airport to New York significantly damaged by a hailstorm, forcing an emergency landing in Rome.

While travellers encountered flight disruptions, many passengers remain unaware of their rights and how to claim refunds when faced with cancellations or delays.

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