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Qatari royals rush to Switzerland in nine planes after emir breaks leg

19:53 29 December 2015 Author :   The Staff

Unidentified individuals travelling in as many as nine planes belonging to Qatar’s royal family made an emergency trip to Switzerland over the weekend for medical reasons, according to a Swiss official.

A spokesman for Switzerland’s federal office of civil aviation confirmed local media reports that multiple aircraft made unscheduled landings at the Zurich-Kloten airport overnight from 25 to 26 December and that the planes were part of the Qatari royal fleet.

He gave no details as to who was on board or who any of the potential patients may have been.

“The emergency landing clearance was given by the Swiss air force,” he told AFP, explaining that the civil aviation office was closed during the hours in question.

Qatari authorities later said that the country’s former ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, had been flown to Switzerland over the weekend for surgery after breaking a leg.

The Qatari government’s communications office said early on Tuesday that Sheihk Hamad suffered “a broken leg while on holiday” and was flown to Zurich on Saturday to receive treatment.

The office says the 63-year-old sheikh underwent a successful operation and was in Zurich “recovering and undergoing physiotherapy.”

The government declined to say how or where Sheikh Hamad broke his leg but the royal family had reportedly been on holiday in Morocco at a resort in the Atlas mountains.

Night landings and takeoffs are typically forbidden at Zurich-Kloten to avoid disturbing local residents.

Swiss foreign ministry spokesman Georg Farago told AFP in an email that the federation was informed about the “stay of members of Qatar’s royal family in Switzerland”, without giving further details.

According to Zurich’s Tages Anzeiger newspaper, the first Qatari plane, an Airbus, landed in Zurich from Marrakesh shortly after midnight on 26 December.

A second flight landed at Zurich-Kloten at 5am (0400 GMT) on 26 December, with a third plane coming 15 minutes later, both having originated in Doha, the paper reported.

According to Tages Anzeiger, the medical emergency in question was so significant that six more planes linked to the Qatari royal family and government landed in Zurich through the weekend.

Sheikh Hamad is believed to have been in poor health for years. He ruled the oil-and-gas-rich Qatar from 1995 until handing over power to his son, Sheikh Tamim, in 2013.

The Guardian

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