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Atlanta airport reopens after lightning strike

  • Story Highlights
  • Lightning strikes a control tower at Hartsfield airport as people evacuated
  • Power outage follows lightning after severe storms roll through Atlanta area
  • Outage affects runway lights; arriving planes diverted or told to circle
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was back in operation late Thursday after lightning hit the control tower and severe storms knocked out power to the area.

The control tower and three of the airport's five runways were open, said Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration. All systems were running on emergency generator power.

A ground stoppage was already in place for arriving or departing flights when lightning struck the tower at 8:45 p.m., according to Bergen. People evacuated the tower and a smoky odor was investigated. At 9:10 p.m., the all-clear was given and controllers returned to the tower, she said. But at 9:20 p.m., the tower and parts of the airport were hit by a power outage. The outage affected all the airport's runway lights, Bergen said.

During the outage, planes headed to Atlanta from other airports were being held on the ground, Bergen said, and arrivals were circling or being diverted to other airports.

Atlanta's airport is one of the world's busiest.

All About Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International AirportFederal Aviation Administration

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