Israel grounds flights over tainted fuel

Israel`s Ben Gurion International Airport grounded all departing flights on Thursday.

Ben Gurion Airport: Israel`s Ben Gurion International Airport grounded all departing flights on Thursday, stranding thousands of passengers, after jet fuel at the airport was found to be tainted.

"After receiving a report that there might be tainted fuel, our immediate reaction was to halt all departures from Ben Gurion," airport manager Shmuel Kandel told reporters.

It was not clear when flights would resume, he said.

Incoming planes have been asked to arrive with enough fuel for their outward journey too, Israeli public radio reported, while the Haaretz daily said aircraft without enough fuel were being diverted to Cyprus.

David Mahlev, a senior official at Arkia Airlines of Israel told Channel 2 television that it had cancelled all its flights until further notice.

"We are trying to get fuelled planes to here from Amman or Cyprus to take stranded passengers," he said.

At the airport, thousands of passengers milled around looking at the large departure board that indicated in red that all flights were either delayed or cancelled.

Among those stranded were hundreds of fans of Israel`s Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team who were on their way to Barcelona for the Euroleague Final Four on Friday.

Kandel said suspicions of a problem were raised after blocked filters were discovered in fuel dispensers. He said the actual fuel stocks at the airport appeared to be fine but the fuel had somehow become contaminated during the delivery process.

He had no further details on what the source of the problem may have been.

Ben Gurion, outside Tel Aviv, is Israel`s only international airport.

Bureau Report

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