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Electrical failure paralyzes Belgian air traffic

Passengers wait at ticketing desks at Brussels airport in Zaventem, Belgium on Wednesday, May 27, 2015. An electrical failure paralyzed much of the air traffic in and over Belgium on Wednesday and caused chaos at Brussels national airport because of the delays, detours and cancellations of flights. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

BRUSSELS (AP) — A power failure at a control center paralyzed most of air traffic in and over Belgium for much of Wednesday and caused chaos at Brussels airport because of delays, detours and cancellations of flights.

Planes slowly started flying again by mid-afternoon but by that time, thousands of passengers at Brussels airport had been affected. Some passengers were left sitting in their planes on the runway for hours while others landed in neighboring nations or missed international connections. Hundreds thronged the hallways of the airport looking for information or new tickets.

Dominique Dehaene of the Belgocontrol agency said that a sudden power surge had taken out the main air traffic control system and also blew the switches to the emergency generators. “We were twice unlucky,” he said.

Well over 100 flights were canceled and dozens rerouted to neighboring airports in Germany, France and the Netherlands.

High-altitude flights over Belgium were unaffected since they are controlled from the continent-wide Eurocontrol agency.

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