LAHORE (Agencies): A massive fire broke out at the immigration counters of Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport early Thursday morning, completely destroying the system and causing a standstill in flight operations.

The fire, which was later brought under control, was caused by a short circuit and spread rapidly, leading to a stampede among passengers and a complete evacuation of the airport. The incident occurred at approximately 5:45 am, causing a sudden rush of passengers and disrupting flight operations.

Despite the swift response from the Airport Security Force (ASF) and firefighters from the Civil Aviation Authority, the blaze destroyed the immigration system, forcing a complete suspension of flight operations.

The Federal Investigation Agency’s technical team is currently working to fix the system, with officials estimating it will take at least three hours to restore functionality.

The fire has also affected the first Hajj flight of PIA, which was set to depart this morning at 8:30 am. Passengers, including intending pilgrims, were immediately evacuated to safer areas. Among the evacuees, a woman and a child fell ill due to the smoke and were shifted to a hospital.

All international flights inbound to Lahore have been rerouted to alternate airports across the country. This includes a Sri Lankan Airlines flight bound for Lahore that was diverted back mid-air.

At least six international flights of local and foreign airlines, including PIA, were delayed because of the fire. According to a Notam issued by the airport authorities, international flight operations from the Lahore airport were suspended for five hours, leading to the cancellation of 30 international flights to and from the city. The suspension was later extended till 10 pm due to updates being made to the immigration system.

Air operations from Karachi to Lahore have also been affected by the fire, with all flights between the two cities facing delays. A spokesperson from the Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that domestic air operations are not operational.

A team of Civil Aviation Authority officials has been formed to determine the reasons for the fire. A preliminary report of the incident has been submitted to Aviation Minister Khawaja Asif, and two top civil aviation officials have been ordered to reach Lahore airport immediately.

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