JFK terminal evacuated after security breach

(AP) - A busy terminal at John F. Kennedy InternationalAirport was evacuated Saturday after a passenger opened arestricted door and set off an alarm, officials said.

The incident delayed some flights for hours and caused headachesfor hundreds of travelers who had to exit the terminal, wait forpolice to sweep through the building, and then return for a secondsecurity screening.

"I just hope I'm not late for my flight," said Victor Medina,looking frustrated after waiting 2 1/2 hours to be re-screened fora connection from Mexico to London.

The security breach apparently involved a passenger who arrivedon a flight from Orlando, Fla., and, while exiting Kennedy'sTerminal 8, opened a door that was supposed to be used only byairport workers.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spokesman SteveColeman said the breach, which happened before 3:30 p.m., wasrecorded by security cameras.

Authorities were initially unsure whether the person had beencoming or going from the terminal and evacuated the secure areas ofthe building while they investigated. The Transportation SecurityAdministration said its agents and Port Authority police weresearching for the person who walked through the door.

Terminal 8 handles both domestic and international flights forAmerican Airlines.

A spokesman for the airline, Charley Wilson, said some flightswere being delayed, and some planes were waiting on the tarmac forpermission to proceed to their gates.

Security officials began to let passengers back in around 6 p.m.but weren't sure how long it would take for everyone to passthrough security checkpoints.

Inside the terminal, hundreds of people waited in a long lineoutside the security gate. Dozens of people sat on the floor withtheir bags.

"The rest of us are made to suffer," said Meganne Harvey, 22,who was trying to fly home to San Diego after a trip to Paris.

The incident is the third evacuation in five months at airportsthat serve New York City.

A man was charged last week with breaching security at NewarkLiberty International Airport in New Jersey on Jan. 3. Flights weregrounded for hours and passengers were re-screened while air safetyofficials searched for him.

A Rutgers University graduate student from China, Haisong Jiang,28, was charged with trespassing in that incident. His arraignmentis set for Jan. 28 in Newark.

In August, a terminal at LaGuardia airport was evacuated afterpolice tackled a disturbed man who was carrying a device thatlooked like a bomb but turned out to be harmless.

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