NEWARK (Reuters) – A man bypassed a security checkpoint at Newark International Airport, prompting an hours-long lockdown of a terminal at one of the busiest U.S. airports, federal officials said.
The New Jersey airport’s Terminal C was cleared after the security breach at 5:20 p.m. EST (2220 GMT) on Sunday, the Transportation Security Administration said. Flights were grounded during the lockdown.
“TSA immediately halted screening at Terminal C’s security checkpoints and worked with law enforcement to pull airport surveillance tapes to identify the individual in question,” agency spokeswoman Ann Davis said in a statement.
Passengers were allowed to begin boarding again about six hours later, the TSA said, according to media reports. Officials have not found the man who caused the alert.
Major U.S. airports have been at a heightened level of security since a botched attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day by a Nigerian man who had explosives in his underwear when boarding at Amsterdam.
Joshua Brown of Toronto, who was waiting in the terminal to board a flight for Lisbon, said the terminal lobby was packed with perhaps 2,000 to 3,000 people, waiting for a large number of security forces to complete their checks.
About two hours after the incident, he said, “The security checkpoints are still empty and nobody is queuing up.”
Continental Airlines operates from Terminal C at Newark airport.
U.S. officials announced earlier on Sunday that citizens of 14 countries who are flying to the United States will be subject to intensified screening at airports worldwide.