updated 4/24/2009 12:45:00 PM ET 2009-04-24T16:45:00

Many flights bound for Atlanta's airport were being diverted Thursday night after a tower was briefly evacuated after a lightning strike, which was followed by a power failure, a federal spokeswoman said.

Workers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport were evacuated at 8:49 p.m. after a smoky odor was detected in the tower during a thunderstorm. Arrivals and departures had already been suspended because of the storm and wind shear, said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen.

After operations resumed, traffic was halted again by a commercial power failure. All equipment had to be restarted when power went back on, she said. Officials were not sure if lightning actually hit the tower or just close by.

Bergen said the airport, which is the world's busiest, was operating late Thursday with three runways, with the two northernmost out of service because they lacked electric power.

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