Long delays at Orlando airport after lithium camera battery explodes in bag, causes panic and evacuation

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Travelers at Orlando International Airport faced lengthy delays Friday night after a battery exploded in a bag, causing people to panic and the airport to be evacuated.

After the incident, flights were grounded. Passengers were asked to de-plane and people waiting at their gates were forced to pass through TSA security screening again.

A lithium camera battery overheated and exploded in the main terminal, which sparked hysteria among travelers, Orlando Police Department said.

Orlando police said there was “no danger to the public” and “NO shots had been fired.”

In a tweet, authorities said the camera bag was “smoldering.”

Airport spokesman Rod Johnson said the noise was reported shortly after 5 p.m. in front of the security checkpoint to gates 1-59. He said full ground-stop was issued and passengers should check with their airlines for any delays.

The checkpoints remain closed, and Johnson said passengers who were at their gates are being brought back out into the main terminal to be re-screened.

Long delays at Orlando airport after lithium camera battery explodes in bag, causes panic and evacuation © Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel/TNS This file photo shows the control tower of the Orlando International Airport on June 27, 2017. Both terminal A and B were evacuated at the time of the incident. Johnson said airport officials will resume normal operation once authorities determine checkpoints can be safely reactivated.

Mike Robinson was at the airport and getting on a flight to Dallas when the incident happened.

“It was pandemonium,” he said. When the noise went off, Robinson said, people sprinted past the security checkpoint to take cover.

“Now, they’re bringing people out of their gates, off-loading them to be screened again,” he said. “There’s thousands and thousands of people. … I look back and I see a sea of people.”

He said at least 10 bomb-sniffing dogs were brought out into the terminal.

Robinson said his flight was at 7:30 p.m., but that it would most likely be delayed.

Visitors quickly posted on social media that they had fled the airport and feared for their lives. While rumors circulated online, the Police Department posted a message on Twitter denouncing any danger.

“There has been NO shooting at Orlando International Airport. There was a loud sound that startled people, but no shots fired, no danger to public,” the Police Department said.

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