Atlanta airport evacuated as terminal fills with smoke after power cut halts flight and leaves thousands of passengers stranded

A POWER cut has crippled the world’s busiest airport by marooning thousands of passengers and then trapping them inside in the dark because the electric doors won’t work.

The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was forced to ground flights after the sudden electricity outage, leaving flyers sitting in planes on the tarmac for hours.

It is understood 92 planes stuck were stranded on the tarmac.

And according to reports, passengers in a part of the airport have had to be evacuated after smoke was spotted.

Video footage taken at the scene shows smoke in the terminal.

Electricity company Georgia Power said there had been an underground fire which caused extensive damage.

A spokesman said: "The event impacted not only the underground facilities, but also substations serving the airport and, while the cause is not yet known, Georgia Power's system responded by isolating areas where equipment wasn't operating correctly to ensure safety and minimize damage.

"No personnel or passengers were in danger at any time."

The company added it hoped power would be restored by midnight local time.

In other parts of the giant airport, people are trapped in departure terminals in the black dark.

But the chaos unfolding at the start of one of the busiest travel weeks of the year has also spread across the US.

Scores of planes due to fly to Atlanta are being held at their departure airports across the United States.

Airports in Chicago are among those affected by a power outage at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Dozens of Atlanta flights to and from O'Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport were listed as cancelled heading into the evening.

Airport spokesman Reese McCraine says the outage occurred early Sunday afternoon.

He says all airport operations are being affected and that outgoing flights were halted.

McCraine says some incoming flights are being diverted to other airports in the region.

He says the airport is working quickly to fix the issue.

McCraine says the cause of the outage is unknown.

The blackout was caused by a construction crew cutting a power line, according to reports. 

Airport officials said the outage happened just on Sunday lunchtime.

The airport is the busiest in the world in terms of passenger traffic with more than 75,000 million people flying in and out.  

The Federal Aviation Administration said it was forced to hold back flights bound for Atlanta, while departures from the airport were also delayed and some planes were held at the tarmac.

International flights to Hartsfield were diverted to other Atlanta-area airports, US Customs and Border Protection said on Twitter.

The control tower was operating normally, but departures were delayed because airport equipment in the terminals was not working, the FAA said in a statement.

The cause of the outage was not immediately known, according to the airport and Georgia Power, which provides electricity to the sprawling facility.

The utility had crews at the airport, spokesman John Kraft said.

Photos posted on social media showed passengers sitting in partial darkness in one terminal.

Delta passenger Emilia Duca, 32, was on her way to Wisconsin from Bogota, Colombia, when she got stuck in Atlanta.

She said police made passengers who were in the baggage-claim area move to a higher floor. She said restaurants and shops were closed.

"A lot of people are arriving, and no one is going out. No one is saying anything official. We are stuck here," she said.

"It's a nightmare."

"Traveling is fun until an airport loses power and you've been sitting on a plane waiting to take off for an hour," Mitch Jecklin wrote on Twitter as disgruntled passengers took to social media to vent their frustration at the pandemonium.

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