A replacement German air force plane was being prepared to carry Merkel and her entourage to the G-20 meeting, which starts Friday in the Argentine capital. However, "we will not be proceeding today", Merkel's spokeswoman said, meaning that the chancellor would miss the Friday opening of the summit.
The report said that the fire brigades were dispatched in the event of a hard landing.
He stressed, however, that there was no danger to the people on board.
German government planes, operated by the country's air force, have been plagued by technical problems in recent years.
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Demonstrators hold flares and a banner over Westminster Bridge in front of the Parliament buildings in London, Nov. 28, 2018. The deal has been criticised by both eurosceptics and europhiles among her own Conservative Party lawmakers.
The cause of the troubles was "the failure of a single component", an electronic distributor box, said Colonel Guido Henrich, commander of the government air fleet.
A senior journalist with the public national television ZDF said Merkel would spend Thursday night in Bonn. The media contingent who had been traveling with her will remain in Germany.
Several firefighting vehicles were on stand-by as Merkel's plane landed because it had more fuel on board than is customary during landing, dpa reported.
Delegation sources said efforts were underway to organise new flights for Merkel and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, possibly on a commercial carrier. News portal Spiegel Online reported the plane suffered a complete failure of its communication system that left the crew without contact with ground control.
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Scrapping the meeting with Putin, though, did not eliminate all of the President's flair for make-or-break drama. She was expected to arrive late to the summit, and the meeting did not appear on Trump's schedule for Friday.
No details were given about the technical problem.
"It was a serious malfunction", Merkel told reporters hours later, after the delegation was brought to a hotel in Bonn.
The armed forces, which complains of being overstretched and underfunded, has always been dogged by a series of equipment failures that have also grounded fighter jets and kept submarines and tanks out of service.
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However, Russia has suggested USA domestic politics may have been the real reason behind the cancellation. Putin reportedly pulled out a pen and paper to sketch the skirmish in the meeting, Bloomberg reported.