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‘Pandemonium.’ Orlando Airport Shuts Down as Battery Explosion Prompts Fears of Attack

Battery explodes in bag at Orlando airport, causes panic and evacuationBattery explodes in bag at Orlando airport, causes panic and evacuation
Control tower of the Orlando International Airport, on June 27, 2017. Orlando Sentinel TNS via Getty Images

Travelers at Orlando International Airport flew into a panic Friday night when they mistook an overheating camera battery for gunshots in the main terminal.

A lithium-ion battery in a camera overheated on Friday and exploded, airport officials tweeted. Passengers who heard the loud popping sound and feared an attack sprinted past checkpoints, according to the Orlando Sentinel, and the airport was evacuated.

Numerous flights were delayed or canceled while officials at the busy airport, which serves more than 43 million travelers per year, investigated the situation. Many passengers who had already boarded were also forced to de-plane. Due to chaos near the security areas, airport officials brought many passengers back through the lines for re-screening, according to the Sentinel.

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

“It was pandemonium,” he said.

The airport eventually reopened all checkpoints hours later, but many passengers were forced to return on Saturday. The airport warned on Twitter that a “higher passenger volume is expected” on Saturday.