Saturday, May 04, 2002

Cleveland airport terminals closed

Bag missing after alarm

By Paul Singer
The Associated Press

        CLEVELAND — A screening machine detected explosives in a carry-on bag at a security checkpoint at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport on Friday, and authorities closed two concourses for 2 1/2 hours, officials said.

        Airport Commissioner Fred Szabo said screeners were unable to find the bag, and he could not rule out the possibility that the bag and the person carrying it got on a flight before the concourses were closed.

        He said there was no way of knowing whether there was an explosive or whether it was a false alarm. Machines frequently return false readings, he said.

        Mr. Szabo said the carry-on bag set off an alarm that was undetected initially by a screener. By the time a second security person noticed, the luggage and the passenger were out of sight, he said.

        “I don't know if it was a minute or 10 minutes,” he said.

        He said the airport shut concourses C and D and emptied 14 Continental planes. The shutdown was from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

        Huntleigh International of St. Louis runs the security at the concourse, Mr. Szabo said. The company declined comment.

        The airport, like others, is making the transition to having feder al workers take over screening. In October, two concourses were closed for 3 1/2 hours when a security device gave what turned out to be a false reading indicating explosives in a carry-on bag.


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