A man who caused a security breach at Newark Liberty International Airport, causing 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, 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,” 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 are still 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.
At Oslo’s Gardermoen airport, a Contentinal flight to Newark that was scheduled to leave at 11 a.m. local time 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 one-and-a-half 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,” 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 Hoynes, a sophomore at the University of Charleston, W.V. “We’re kind of cheap, so we were going to go to an Applebee’s, maybe an Outback, and we were hoping to catch a movie. But now I don’t know.”
Still, he said, if he gets stranded in Newark, “You know college. I have friends everywhere. I can make a few phone calls and crash somewhere.”
Also Sunday, the TSA announced that passengers flying to the U.S. from nations regarded as state sponsors of terrorism and countries of interest would be subject to enhanced screening.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.