The United Kingdom’s second-biggest airport has been closed for more than 19 hours in an unprecedented disruption caused by drone sightings, which police have described as a “deliberate act.”
London’s Gatwick Airport has been closed since 9 p.m. on Wednesday Dec 19th after drones were spotted near the airfield and as at Thursday afternoon, police were still on the hunt for the drone operators who have brought the airport to a standstill, causing travel chaos for hundreds of thousands of passengers just days before Christmas.
“Each time we believe we get close to the operator, the drone disappears; when we look to reopen the airfield, the drone reappears,” Sussex Police Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw told the UK’s Press Association.
The Ministry of Defence said on Thursday evening that it had deployed specialist equipment to assist Sussex Police in their efforts.
It is illegal to fly drones within 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) of a UK airfield boundary, with perpetrators facing up to five years in prison. There is no indication the incident at Gatwick is terror-related, local Sussex Police said adding that 20 police units from two forces were searching for the drone operators.