Police block runway at airport to stop planes landing amid coronavirus outbreak

Police in a major city are going to extreme lengths to fight the coronavirus pandemic – by physically blocking a major airport runway to stop planes landing.

Shocking images have emerged showing cops in their hundreds parking their vehicles along the entire runway of their country’s second biggest airport.

The law enforcement officers can be seen standing by their vehicles on both sides of the landing strip as a helicopter flies overhead to film the bizarre scenes.

The officers were reportedly ordered to block the runway yesterday by the city’s mayor ahead of an Iberia plane landing from Madrid, Spain which has been badly hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

The jet was reportedly carrying 11 crew members who were due to stay in the city overnight, but it was eventually forced to divert to another airport, as did a second passenger jet.

The dramatic scenes took place at Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International airport in Guayaquil, the biggest city – and second most populous – in Ecuador, South America.

This airport is the city’s second busiest, and the police actions eventually forced the Iberia jet to divert to the country’s capital of Quito instead before flying on to Amsterdam.

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It came after the government had announced increased border restrictions for the country, but had allowed for flights to arrive to take visitors home, or repatriate local citizens.

Ecuador is currently gripped by around 200 coronavirus cases – most of which are said to be located in Guayaquil.

Cynthia Viteri, the mayor of Guayaquil who ordered the police action, said: "How is it possible that they were going to allow a plane from Madrid to land today with eleven crew members to stay in the city with the highest degree of coronavirus cases until Friday this week so that it can take off again with passengers? That, unfortunately, it is criminal.”

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She added: “You (national government) brought about 200 European people, you have them at the moment at the Guayaquil airport, you are exposing (to) our airport staff, you are exposing the city and tonight (Wednesday) with the measures that you take, yes, violent ones, to militarize the airport to achieve the objective that you set, to bring 200 more foreigners to the city with more risk, it will be the absolute responsibility of all of you.”

Despite the drastic move, both airport and government officials have reportedly distanced themselves from the alleged incident and have said at this stage they expect regular flights to continue. They are also investigating the incident.

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