It's not clear whether the motive was mischief or something more sinister, but somebody has managed to cause massive disruption at one of Europe's busiest airports by flying drones close to the runway. At least 10,000 passengers at London's Gatwick Airport were affected starting Wednesday night when two drones were spotted near the airfield, the BBC reports. After around six hours, the runway was opened again at 3am—but closed 45 minutes later after more sightings of drones being flown in across the perimeter fence. It remained closed Thursday morning, with more than 100,000 people scheduled to fly in or out of Gatwick, which is the second-busiest airport in Britain.
Airport chief operating officer Chris Woodroffe says police are scouring the airport perimeter, the Guardian reports. "The police advice is that it would be dangerous to shoot the drone down because of what may happen to the stray bullets," he says. Another drone was spotted around 7am. Some inbound flights were diverted as far away as Paris and Amsterdam, and some passengers shared accounts of being held in planes for hours while they waited for the runway to reopen. Passengers diverted to Manchester, more than 160 miles north, said they were promised buses but found scenes of chaos instead, with taxi drivers charging more than $750 for the trip to Gatwick. (Last year, a drone slammed into a passenger jet in Canada.)