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Merkel to miss G20 start after plane suffers ‘serious malfunction’

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By Alasdair Sandford  with Reuters
Merkel to miss G20 start after plane suffers ‘serious malfunction’
Copyright  REUTERS/Andreas Rinke

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel will miss the opening of the G20 summit in Argentina after a technical problem forced her government plane to turn back.

The Airbus A340 aircraft carrying Merkel and her delegation to the Group of 20 summit of industrialised nations encountered difficulties an hour into the 15-hour flight to Buenos Aires. It made an unscheduled but safe landing at Cologne-Bonn airport.

The German leader and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz were due to resume their journey early on Friday, flying to Argentina via Madrid, but will arrive after world leaders start their discussions.

“It was a serious malfunction,” Merkel told reporters from Bonn, where her delegation was taken to a hotel. “Luckily we had an excellent crew and the most experienced pilot of the special air mission wing.”

The plane’s captain told passengers he had decided to land after the “malfunction of several electronic systems,” but added that there had been no security risk.

Der Spiegel magazine reported that the entire communication system malfunctioned, constituting a serious emergency, saying the crew were forced to plan the landing using an on-board satellite phone.

Government sources said Merkel had planned bilateral meetings in Buenos Aires with the presidents of the United States, China, Russia and India. She is unlikely to arrive until Friday evening and it was not immediately clear which meetings would have to be rescheduled.