Gibraltar plane evacuated in security alert

Gibraltar's runway (file picture from 7 August 2013) Image copyright Getty Images

Gibraltar airport was closed after a security alert on an Easyjet plane due to depart for the UK, police have said.

Passengers and crew left the Airbus A319 plane as explosives experts examined a suspect piece of luggage.

The closure lasted for about two hours before police declared the incident over and the airport reopened.

Easyjet said the delay was "due to a technical issue which resulted in a smell of smoke". The flight to London Gatwick took off three hours later.

It said 156 passengers and six crew were on the plane, which had been due to leave Gibraltar at 11:40 GMT.

Businesses in the area were also evacuated and all traffic in and out of Gibraltar's border was stopped as it is the only route in to the territory.

A British Airways flight from Heathrow scheduled to arrive in Gibraltar at 12:45 GMT was diverted to Malaga while the incident was taking place. Flight BA490 arrived in Gibraltar at 14:55 GMT.

'Strange smell'

Gibraltar police say the captain of the Easyjet plane had asked for assistance and military explosives experts carried out an assessment.

Easyjet said the issue was "fully investigated prior to the departure" in line with "standard operating procedures".

A passenger on the flight, Gillie Harvey, told the BBC: "There was a strange smell coming from the hold and a sniffer dog went into the hold while we were still on board the plane."

She says passengers left the plane and were "moved to a secure area" of the airport and informed their luggage would be offloaded and rescreened.