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September 13, 2000|Associated Press

Noxious fumes, apparently from a cleaning solvent, escaped into part of Sydney's international airport today, and at least 50 people were treated, officials said.

Ambulance, police and fire crews were called to the departure terminal in response to reports of a "major gas leak," said Andrew Hall, a spokesman for the New South Wales state Ambulance Service.

Departing passengers and airport staff reported stinging eyes and difficulty breathing in a part of the terminal that was quickly sealed off. At least 10 people were taken to a hospital and 40 more treated at the scene, authorities said.

"Most have been treated with oxygen and saline in their eyes to ease the irritation," said Caroline Hancock, an ambulance spokeswoman.

The fumes did not disrupt any flights or airport services, and no Olympic passengers were affected, said Sydney airport spokesman Peter Gibbs.

"Olympic passengers in the inbound passenger area were completely unaffected," Gibbs said.


Marc Rosset of Switzerland, the 1992 Olympic tennis champion, withdrew from the Sydney Games, saying he was suffering from "extreme physical and mental exhaustion."

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