Thousands of weary and frightened travelers endured hours of waiting and wondering at the security checkpoints at Orlando International Airport. The cause for alarm was later confirmed to be due to a lithium camera battery exploding.
The noise of the explosion, which many report sounded like gun shots, caused panic and resulted in the airport being evacuated.
Here’s what we know:
- Shortly after 5 p.m. on Friday, flights were grounded
- On-board passengers were de-planed
- Passengers waiting at gates were forced to be re-screened through TSA checkpoints
- 3 hours after the incident, passengers for gates 70-129 were shuffled back through security
- The TSA checkpoint for Gates 70-129 re-opened once officials deemed it was safe
Lines for the security screenings were long.
Passengers were frustrated.
Information from airport authorities was sparse.
For a few hours, the atmosphere of the airport’s main terminal was chaotic, to say the least. Rumors of shots fired swirled with witnesses saying the noise from the incident sounded alarmingly similar to gunshots.
Passengers also say they saw smoke coming from a bag.
The Orlando Police Department reported that the incident that created ENORMOUS delays was a lithium camera battery that overheated and exploded in the main terminal.
Officials confirm there was “no danger to the public” and “NO shots had been fired.” They referred to the camera bag as “smoldering.”
Witnesses of the event and those present in the Orlando International Airport (MCO) quickly took to social media and posted about the pandemonium. Photos with posts showed that they had fled the airport and feared for their lives. The Orlando Police Department posted a message on Twitter denying any danger to airport visitors or passengers.