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Hectic day at Amsterdam airport amid WWII bomb discovery, hijack scare

Amsterdam's Schiphol airport suffered delays today as construction workers uncovered an unexploded World War II bomb and Dutch jets responded to a mistaken hijacking report.

By Reuters / August 29, 2012

This December 2009 file photo shows security workers leave Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Evert Elzinga/AP/File

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Authorities evacuated parts of Amsterdam's Schiphol airport on Wednesday after workers found an unexploded World War Two bomb, forcing airlines to delay and cancel some flights.  And separately, a flight from Malaga was surrounded by Dutch security forces upon landing at Schiphol after a miscommunication between the pilot and Dutch ground control caused a hijack scare.

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False alarm about hijacking

"There was never any danger. There was a lack of communication between the pilot and the tower and the airport has activated the security protocol," a spokeswoman for Spanish carrier Vueling said.

The airline's flight from Malaga in Spain to Amsterdam was surrounded by Dutch security forces on landing at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

The Dutch Defence Ministry had sent two F-16 fighters to intercept the airplane after suspecting a hijacking, a Dutch military police spokesman told Reuters.

"We are still trying to establish communication with passengers and with the crew," Martijn Peelen, spokesman for the military police, told Reuters by phone.

A passenger on board the plane said nothing unusual was happening, Dutch broadcaster NOS reported, quoting the passenger.

"In fact nothing was going on. We had to fly a few rounds. We are now waiting in the plane, the doors are still closed. But there is no hijack," NOS quoted the person as saying.

World War II bomb found

The German bomb was discovered buried underground near the transport hub's busy Terminal C, which handles flights to most major European destinations, the Dutch Defence Ministry said in a statement.

Schiphol cleared and closed Terminal C, parts of Terminal D, and one landing strip, an airport spokeswoman said.

A handful of European flights were canceled, while several dozen were delayed, she added.

The 500kg explosive, uncovered during construction work, would be taken to a safe location and dismantled, the ministry said.

Schiphol was a military airport during World War Two. It was bombed both by the Germans at the start of the conflict and by Allied forces during the fighting.

Flights by airline KLM, which is part of Franco-Dutch group Air France KLM and uses Schiphol as its main hub, were affected, Schiphol's website showed.

Schiphol is Europe's fifth busiest airport and handled about 45 million passengers in 2010.

It is owned by the Dutch state, the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and French airports operator Aeroports de Paris.

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