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100 suitcases covered in sewage after pipe burst at Heathrow

Planes queuing to take off on the Southern runway at Heathrow Airport. Credit: PA

Many passengers have been left without their baggage following a pipe burst in Heathrow Terminal 5, which meant their bags were covered in raw sewage.

About 100 suitcases were soaked in the sewage when a pipe in the sewage system burst in the terminal's baggage hold area on Monday.

The process of reuniting passengers with their luggage is ongoing after Heathrow had the luggage cleaned.

A spokesperson for the airport operator, BAA Heathrow, said:

“There was a leak from the sewage system in the baggage area of Terminal 5 on Monday which affected around a hundred bags.

"We appreciate this will be upsetting for passengers. The bags have now been cleaned and are being reunited with their owners."

Children detained at Heathrow held in "degrading" conditions

Children detained by the UK Border Agency at Heathrow Airport are being held in "degrading" conditions.

A report by the Independent Monitoring Board also found rooms used to hold children were "disgraceful."

It recommends that non-custodial, child-friendly accommodation be provided for families. The Border Agency says Heathrow's operators BAA are responsible for the standard of custody suites.


Border Force misses target

New figures show that the Border Force failed to meet its targets for getting non-EU passport holders through immigration at Heathrow last month.

The agency aims to get 95 percent of passengers through within 45 minutes, but at Terminal 5 they only managed 76 percent.

The figures were released on BAA's website after the Government admitted the Border Force needs to change the way it operates. Large queues built up at passport control at the airport last week, with some passengers waiting for up to three hours.

However, the Border Force did meet its targets for EU passport holders, meaning that 95 percent of passengers were processed in less than 25 minutes.

Terminal-by-terminal figures at Heathrow in April 2012 - percentage of non-EU passport holders processed within 45 minutes:

Terminal 1 - 94.5%

Terminal 3 - 87.0%

Terminal 4 - 84.4%

Terminal 5 - 75.7%

BAA statement on the recent queues

BAA, which owns Heathrow Airport, made the following statement:

"Immigration waiting times during peak periods at Heathrow recently have been unacceptable and we have called on the Home Office to address the problem as a matter of urgency.

"There isn't a trade-off between strong border security and a good passenger experience - the Home Office should be delivering both."

– BAA Spokeswoman

Long queues had formed at passport control on Thursday and Friday.

BAA spokesperson: 'Everything is looking quite good in the immigration halls'

A spokeswoman for BAA, which owns Heathrow, said Friday night's long queues, which saw passengers waiting for up to an hour, had cleared by midnight.

Discussing the situation today, she said:

"Everything is looking quite good in the immigration halls. Things are moving and we haven't got major queues.

"The Border Force is putting staff where they are needed at the moment."

– BAA Spokeswoman