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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Concourses at Detroit Metropolitan Airport Evacuated Because of Security Breech

Aired January 16, 2002 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with breaking news out of Detroit, Michigan. Concourses at a Detroit Metropolitan Airport were evacuated early this morning because of a security breech. Now hundreds of people are waiting to get back to their gates.

Joining us now by phone to tell us exactly what happened at the airport is the spokesman Michael Conway.

Mike, good morning.

MICHAEL CONWAY, DETROIT METROPOLITAN AIRPORT SPOKESMAN: Good morning.

KAGAN: What happened at your airport today?

CONWAY: Well, this morning, there was a gentleman who went through the screening process, and as happens to a lot of us, rang the alarm on the primary screening and got in line for secondary screening and walked right past secondary screening.

KAGAN: Like walked or ran.

CONWAY: No, he just walked past. And because we have some pretty good security cameras, and we have lockdown procedures at our airport, we were able to isolate the only possibility that he would have contact with passengers on two concourses. This checkpoint leads to five concourses. But we immediately, when the breech alarm went off, pulled the gates down, checked the security tapes, and realized that he went right to gate F-5 and sat down. But potentially, he could have come in contact with people who had access to concourses E and F. So we emptied those two concourses, did the whole security sweep, and then started emptying out people.

KAGAN: So you don't think this guy was a security threat, he just didn't understand the system in place.

CONWAY: He is very remorseful, and it appears that it was totally unintentional. But everybody is being very much on alert right now. And just to be on the safe and secure side, about 500 or 600 people are being rescreened.

KAGAN: How does your airport handles it right now compared to the huge mess that took place in Atlanta about six weeks ago when the guy went after his camera bag, and they had to evacuate the entire airport.

CONWAY: The advantage we have in Detroit is we have sort of like a prison, lock down procedures, when a breach alarm goes off, the gates come down, and people are just stopped. There's no possible way somebody could get from this concourse to another concourse once those gates are down. So when the airlines have a security breech like this in Detroit, we are equipped to isolate areas of the airport, so it's not necessary to evacuate the entire terminal.

KAGAN: Two questions. First of all, what's going to happens to this guy, even though it sounds like it was just an honest mistake. Still, he is causing inconvenience for a number of people.

CONWAY: That I can't answer. He is in police custody right now, and I'm certain that the FAA will probably have an opinion on that, but we don't have the information right now.

KAGAN: And the airlines, too, possibly. What about all these passengers as you try to rescreen them, how far back do you think -- how long will this process take?

CONWAY: Probably another 45 minutes or so for rescreening. The airline Northwest actually had those two concourses. They held flights for as long as they could. But they had connections to make at other locations. So a number of those people will need to be rebooked on other flights. They will have words for the man who didn't understand how to go through screening. But it sounds like you are handling it at Detroit Metro.

KAGAN: Michael Conway, thank you for brining us up to date on that.

CONWAY: My pleasure, Daryn.

KAGAN: Appreciate it.

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