A security breach and a flashlight battery explosion shut down four terminals at Los Angeles International Airport for nearly four hours on Saturday, delaying dozens of flights and clogging traffic for miles on surrounding city streets.
The evacuations at three interconnected domestic terminals came on Labor Day weekend, one of the busiest travel holidays of the year, after a person bypassed security by walking up an exit staircase into the passenger area, local officials said. Authorities were unable to locate the person who triggered the alarm but all passengers in the terminals were evacuated and re-screened.
A separate incident about 30 minutes later shut down the airport's busy international terminal when a plastic flashlight exploded in the bag of a Japanese tourist about to board a Korean Air flight for Tokyo, Los Angeles Mayor Jim Hahn told a news conference. Police Chief Bill Bratton added the batteries in the flashlight apparently malfunctioned, causing a small explosion. Eight workers, including five with the Transportation Security Administration and three baggage handlers were taken to the hospital for treatment for minor injuries, Hahn said. "At this time we don't believe the explosion involved any intentional explosion or explosive device," Hahn said.
"But that remains under investigation." The domestic terminals were evacuated after 7:30 a.m. and authorities later closed off access to the central terminal and blocked off surrounding roads leading into the nation's third-busiest airport, informs Reuter. According to the information of Channelnewsasia, Los Angeles International Airport shut down citing security concerns, a spokesman said. Some terminals at Los Angeles International Airport were evacuated today due to an apparent "security breach" airport spokesperson Harold Johnson said. Johnson said that in what may be a separate unrelated incident, a "loud sound" was heard at the airport. An Airport Police dispatcher said the loud sound may have come from an exploding flashlight.
There were initial reports of some injuries, but those reports could not be immediately confirmed. US media showed thousands of passengers crowded into the street outside terminals and reported travel delays in the western United States. Los Angeles International Airport reopened Saturday after two unrelated security incidents forced the airport to close for several hours, CNN reported. "We do not believe these incidents are connected or related to terrorism," Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Amy Van Walter said. In one incident, eight people were injured after a flashlight exploded due to corroded batteries in the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The injuries were reportedly all minor. "Based on what we know so far it appears to be an accidental explosion," Chief John Miller of the LAPD bomb disposal unit said. In the other incident, a man reportedly waving boarding passes went up the exit stairs of the United Airlines baggage claim area into the terminal, CNN said.
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