A 41-year-old Frenchman at London Gatwick airport has been arrested with a weapon that appeared to be a firearm, British police said in a statement on Saturday, following the evacuation of its north terminal as a precautionary measure.
“Personal items and what appears to be a firearm were recovered and have been removed for forensic examination. However, the viability of the weapon has yet to be established,” Sussex Police told AFP.
The terminal of the south London airport has now been reopened.
The evacuation came amid heightened security after attacks in Paris left more than 120 people dead on Friday and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron convened a meeting of his government’s emergency response committee.
Britain’s terrorism threat level stands at “severe” -- the second highest category -- which means a militant attack is considered highly likely.
Gatwick Airport is the country’s second busiest airport and is situated about 30 miles south of London.
Sussex Police confirmed the north terminal was being evacuated “for the protection of the public” after a “suspicious object” was located at the airport, the Express.co.uk reported.
The evacuation came hours after the brazen terror attacks that killed at least 127 people in the French capital, said to be the deadliest attacks in Europe since the Madrid train bombings in 2004.
Passengers at the West Sussex airport were reportedly told to stay away from glass windows and pictures from those at the scene showed large crowds waiting outside in the rain.
The Telegraph quoted Ozay Booth, a 23-year-old web designer, as saying: “We were in the airport and then all of a sudden police started running and shouting ‘everyone get out, get out’.
“It was terrifying! Particularly after everything that happened yesterday.”
“They’ve put us all under a bus shelter but no-one’s telling us anything. There must be 500 of us here but we don’t know what’s going on, it’s awful,” Booth said earlier in the evening.