ORLANDO, Fla. - Orlando International Airport officials urge flyers to arrive early for their flights Saturday due to heavy traffic from passengers on the 24 flights canceled during Friday's panic after a lithium ion battery exploded in a passenger's bag.
Numerous people at Orlando International Airport Friday reported there was a panic caused by a noise initially thought to be a gunshot.
The Orlando Police Department, though, said on Twitter that no shots had been fired and it was only "a loud sound that startled people."
The department later said on Twitter that the noise was caused by a lithium battery inside a camera that exploded.
A letter from Greater Orlando Aviation Authority CEO Phil Brown regarding the checkpoint incident on November 10, 2017.— Orlando Intl Airport (@MCO) November 11, 2017
The bag the camera was in started to smolder, but no one was injured, the OPD tweet said.
The incident was first reported just after 5 p.m., airport officials said in a statement.
"As a result of the incident, a ground stop was issued and a number of flights were held while passengers were allowed back into the building and security checkpoints reactivated," the statement said.
The OPD Twitter post did not go into detail about what had caused the loud sound.
The incident did not pose any danger to people at the airport, the department's Twitter post said.
Regardless, photos given to Channel 9 showed a normally busy terminal that was completely empty.
A video showed people evacuating trams at the airport.
Because everyone who evacuated the terminal had to go through security screening again, travelers were experiencing inordinately long lines.
"It's crazy. Nobody knows anything," traveler McKenzie Golden said.
She had just gone through the security checkpoint and was preparing to get onto a flight home to Michigan when the chaos hit.
"I heard people screaming and then everybody hit the ground and people were basically running over each other, trampling each other," Golden said.
Numerous flights were delayed due to the incident. Check here to see if your flight is among those affected.
Hours after the battery explosion, massive crowds were still working their way through security to get to their flights.
At about 7:41 p.m., gates 100-129 were reopened on Airside 2; at 8:08 p.m., gates 70-99 reopened on Airside 4; and at 8:43 p.m., gates 1-59 or Airsides 3 and 4 were reopened.
UPDATE: Again, NO shots were fired at MCO. A lithium battery in a camera exploded in a bag; that was the noise people heard. The bag was smoldering; no one hurt. Thank you for helping us get the word out.— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) November 10, 2017
ALERT: 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.— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) November 10, 2017
An incident in the terminal continues to be investigated. Will update with details as soon as we receive.— Orlando Intl Airport (@MCO) November 10, 2017
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