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Forest fire grounds flights at Rome's busiest airport

AFP / TIZIANA FABI (file photo) | Passengers wait for flights at Rome's Fiumicino airport

A forest fire raged near Rome’s Fiumicino airport on Wednesday, forcing the temporary suspension of departures at Italy’s busiest airport, officials said.

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The fire was burning in one of several forests of pine trees near the airport.

Esterino Montino, the mayor of Fiumicino, the town closest to the airport, was quoted by Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper as saying the situation was “very serious”.

Airline Alitalia said in a tweet at around 15:00 local time that departing flights had been suspended. A spokesperson said the number of incoming flights had also been reduced.

Flights resumed again around two hours later, the airline said.

Forest rangers said in a statement that the blaze was affecting about 40 hectares of a nature reserve that totals some 16,000 acres.

A statement said the fire was being whipped by winds and that fire-fighting planes were dropping water on the area. Some roads in the area had been closed to civilian traffic.

Fiumicino, Italy’s busiest air hub, is on the Mediterranean Sea west of the capital. It is close to a number of parks and nature reserves of forests of pines native to the area.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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