Monday, January 4, 2010


NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A man who caused a security breach at Newark Liberty International Airport, forcing major delays and grounding flights for six hours, left about 20 minutes after he walked the wrong way through a security checkpoint, the Transportation Security Administration said Monday.

Someone picking up a passenger told an officer guarding the exit that he thought he saw a man enter through the doors Sunday, TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis said. TSA reviewed surveillance video before sweeping the airport, she said.

The video confirmed the man had entered through the exit, and officials made passengers leave the terminal and be rescreened.

The video also showed the man leaving the terminal through another exit about 20 minutes later, Ms. Davis said, although it was unclear when authorities learned the man had left.

“We have to operate under the assumption that he’s still in the sterile area,” Ms. Davis said. “We have to ensure that he hadn’t introduced anything to the sterile area.”

Authorities found nothing suspicious when they searched the terminal after evacuating passengers. They still are trying to determine the man’s identity.

Terminal C, where the security breach occurred, is used mostly by Continental Airlines. Airline spokesman Susannah Thurston said the airline still had delays, particularly with flights that originated at Newark and are now running behind schedule at other airports.

Sarah Kornblet, 29, of Washington was in Newark and just about to board her Continental flight to Mumbai on Sunday when the security breach occurred. She was evacuated for about three hours and then had to go through security again.

“Newark airport was a mess. Not one single announcement was made, with these thousands of people waiting for hours,” Ms. Kornblet said. “We learned about it from watching CNN.”

Her flight was delayed repeatedly. The latest estimate she heard was a departure of 4:45 p.m. Monday.

Tom Hiletch of New York was trying to get to St. Thomas on Monday with his wife and toddler.

“When we got here this morning, there were thousands of people. Long, long lines, people delayed, people rerouted,” he said. “It was pretty frustrating.”

But Emily Martin, who was traveling home to San Francisco on Monday with her husband and two small children, said the security breach the day before hadn’t affected her family’s flight.

“It’s been smooth sailing for us all the way,” she said.

At Oslo’s Gardermoen Airport, a Continental flight to Newark that was scheduled to leave at 11 a.m. local time Monday was delayed at least six hours. Passengers sat on suitcases and chatted among themselves as they waited in a check-in line that barely moved for 1½ hours.

Ragnhild Belbo, 26, of Trondheim, Norway, was traveling to St. Paul, Minn., with her 82-year-old grandmother to visit her brother, a student at St. Olaf College. She was disappointed to learn they would likely have to spend the night in Newark.

“It’s a bit hard to lose one day when you have one week only, and there could also be more delays,” Ms. Belbo said.

Kristian Hoynes, 19, of Floro, Norway, worried about missing his second-anniversary dinner with his girlfriend of two years, who was staying with her parents in Warrenton, Va.

“We’d sort of planned a dinner,” said Mr. Hoynes, a sophomore at the University of Charleston in West Virginia, “but now I don’t know.”

Also Sunday, the TSA announced that passengers flying to the United States from nations regarded as state sponsors of terrorism and countries of interest would be subject to enhanced screening.

Associated Press writers Geoff Mulvihill in Haddonfield, N.J.; Colleen Long and Kim Gamel in Newark; and Maria Sanminiatelli in Oslo contributed to this report.

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