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Merkel’s plane makes unscheduled landing after technical hitch

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will miss the opening of the G20 summit in Argentina after her plane was forced to land shortly after leaving Berlin.

The plane was met on the tarmac in Cologne by emergency vehicles
The plane was met on the tarmac in Cologne by emergency vehicles

Her office says Mrs Merkel and delegates made a safe, but unscheduled, landing in Cologne after the Airbus developed a technical problem.

The plane turned back while it was over the Netherlands, German reports say.

Reports say Mrs Merkel will travel via Spain to Buenos Aires on Friday.

The captain announced to passengers that he had decided to turn back after the “malfunction of several electronic systems”. The problem lay with the plane’s communications system and the crew had to use a satellite phone to contact air traffic controllers, Germany’s Spiegel website reported.

An added problem for the plane was that Cologne Airport’s longer runway was unavailable, Spiegel added.

As the A340 had to slow down quickly and it was still fully laden with fuel, its braking system overheated and the fire brigade met the plane on the tarmac.

The German delegation was kept on the plane for some time before officials decided to travel by bus to a hotel in Bonn.

German media added that the chancellor, her husband and the finance minister were expected to travel to Madrid on an air force plane on Friday morning before taking a scheduled Iberia airlines flight on to Argentina.

The Airbus A340-300 government aircraft is named Konrad Adenauer after West Germany’s first post-war chancellor.

For finance minister Olaf Scholz, the Konrad Adenauer’s technical problems are nothing new.

In October he was on a trip to Indonesia when the plane was grounded because rodents had gnawed through electrical cables during an annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), DPA reported. BBC