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Five Terminals Evacuated At LAX, Screening Machine Not Working

Aired February 28, 2002 - 10:23   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.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We want to update you right now on a situation developing in Los Angeles. We're getting word that there's another incident at Los Angeles International Airport. What we're hearing now, is that there was a security breech there.

However, what we're hearing about this -- quote, unquote -- "security breech," is that there's an equipment failure there. So we don't know necessarily if this so-called breech is a result of someone doing something they weren't supposed to do or in an area they weren't supposed to be in, but there's equipment that's down. And perhaps that's a part of the -- of the problem. It is part of the confusion, that's for sure.

We're getting word that terminals 4 through 8 have been shut down. And you see the mess there? Those are all the people who have been evacuated out of all of those terminals. And, as you can imagine, this is going to cause quite a delay and is going to upset quite a few travelers today and maybe lots of folks who may be waiting on these travelers.

Joining us now on the telephone is Officer Guillermo Campos and hopefully he can give us some more information about what's going on. Officer Campos, are you there?

OFFICER GUILLERMO CAMPOS, LAPD: Yes I am.

HARRIS: Can you tell us exactly what's going on? What do you mean by security breech out here?

CAMPOS: Well, the information I've gotten is that we're closing terminals 4 through 8 because a -- one of the machines that they use to detect metal, it's called the magnetometer, hasn't been working since about, as near as they can find, about 5:00 AM. So, a lot of people got into the airport with bags that weren't checked.

So, there -- as a safety precaution, it is a security breech. They're going to have everybody go back out and then go back through.

HARRIS: Okay, for some -- I'm sorry, Officer -- for some reason, we hear another voice on the phone line along with you, and it's kind of overpowering you. Can you say once again. You're saying that this is a -- what happened with this equipment, please?

CAMPOS: The equipment, as far as they can tell, hasn't been working since about 5:00 AM. Which means that a lot of people in terminals 4 through 8 were able to get through without being, you know -- they haven't gone through -- they haven't been checked by this magnetometer. So they don't know what they're carrying.

So, everybody in terminals 4 through 8 have to go back outside and then run back through the machines.

HARRIS: That's got to be an awful mess. Any idea how many people we're talking about here?

CAMPOS: Well, it must be a lot of people, because they also screen employees, people on planes and anybody that's in that area. So, they're going to completely make sure that there's nobody there, and then run them back through. It could take hours.

HARRIS: Yes. Now, which airlines are being affected the most here?

CAMPOS: I don't know which airlines are in terminals 4 through 8...

HARRIS: OK.

CAMPOS: ...but it is 5 terminals.

HARRIS: All right. So, what advice do you have for travelers today who may be going to the airport and may be using these terminals?

CAMPOS: Well, people that know they're going to be in terminals 4 through 8, can be near the airport, to go back through once it's opened. But, at this point, it wouldn't be any point in going and waiting and creating more -- more problem -- traffic problems in front of the terminals.

HARRIS: I'm assuming that this is going to mean a lot of cancellations on flights? Correct?

CAMPOS: That I don't know.

HARRIS: Ah! OK, that's very interesting. Any idea how long it's going to take to get -- say, if you happen to be an average person right there, in this picture, on the curb, how long is it going to take you to get back to your gate?

CAMPOS: I don't know, because they'll have to go through and make sure that they have everybody out and then they'll be able to let some people go through. Once they've done that, it will probably go fairly quickly.

HARRIS: All right. At this point, you don't have any reason to believe that there's any danger involved here, do you?

CAMPOS: There hasn't been any indication other than the machine was not on and operational, that there's a danger. HARRIS: Boy! Who operates that machine? We were -- we've been talking about security here quite a bit. And the fact that the government now is pretty much -- is taking over control of security operations at the airports. Who operates this machine that was supposed to be turned on?

CAMPOS: Well, as we all have been told, the federal government is in charge of security at the airports. As far as I know, those were being -- those machines are being operated by personnel at the airport. So I don't know if there has been a switch.

HARRIS: Oh! Very interesting. All right. Officer Guillermo Campos, thank you very much. We appreciate the update, and we hope to get some information later on about this. And we hope people there have a better time...

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.

HARRIS: ...than it looks like they're going to have for a while.

KAGAN: What a mess it's been at LAX. This is the third security problem they've had with evacuations, I think, in the last week and a half.

HARRIS: Last week and a half. Yes, at least.

KAGAN: Yes. A mess. And I think the government has taken over, but their employees don't take over until November, so it's kind of in that transition period. But, that is of no consequence to people who are stuck in that mess at LAX. We will keep an eye on that and see how things are moving along there. And wish those folks well, trying to get through the airport in Los Angeles.

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