Thousands of lightning strikes hit southern Britain during a powerful overnight thunderstorm during the weekend, causing flight disruptions at a London-area airport.
Thousands Of Lightning Strikes
Met Office meteorologist Charlie Powell said that between 15,000 and 20,000 bolts of lightning hit UK overnight on Saturday.
The thunderstorm left hundreds of home without power and caused disruptions at the London Stansted Airport as flights were delayed, diverted, and canceled.
The airport revealed on Sunday that a lightning strike damaged an aircraft refueling system, bringing the airport to a partial standstill.
"Engineers have been on site and have now restored the system. However flights may still be subject to diversion, delay or cancellation," the airport said in a statement as it advised passengers to check with their respective airlines for flight updates.
Situation At The Airport
Britain is in the middle of a long holiday weekend. The airport already expected an influx of passengers due to the Spring Bank Holiday.
"Travelling this #SpringBankHoliday weekend? We forecast 364,000 passengers to pass through," the airport earlier said. "Please prepare for your journey by allowing extra time to go through the airport & arrive here at least 2 hours prior to your flight."
Passengers were stuck on stationary planes for hours and complained about not being given proper explanations for the delays. Queues of more than a thousand people were also across the airport.
Passengers claimed that Ryanair, one of the airport's principal airlines, did not have enough staff to efficiently manage the chaos.
Jack Dadds, whose flight was canceled, said that all the flight desks are closed, and the staff were asking people to use the app that was not working. Others were unhappy with their flights getting canceled and the long queues for customer service.
"Stuck here as Ryanair flights keep getting cancelled," Dani Dockray wrote on Facebook. "Not been told until 30 mins before actual departure time. Incredibly long queue for customer services consisting of whole 3 staff and have been in it for an hour and have moved about 4 metres. Lot of very very angry people."
Ryanair Offers Refunds And Free Transfer
Ryanair could not say the exact number of its affected flights, but the airlines offered its passengers with refunds or free transfer. A spokesman apologized to customers for the incident but cited that the disruption is beyond the company's control.
"All affected customers are being contacted and advised of their options of a full refund, a free transfer on to the next available flight or a free transfer on to an alternative routing," the Ryanair spokesman said.
FlightStats said that there were 200 flights that were delayed at Stansted as well as 31 departures and 18 arrivals that were canceled.