An exploding lithium battery inside a camera bag sent people at Orlando International Airport into a panic Friday and prompted the evacuation of the main terminal building.
The noises the lithium battery made as it overheated and exploded were mistaken by many in the airport for a bomb or other terrorist incident, according to various reports. News of a shootout at the airport circulated on social media immediately following the blast. No injuries were reported.
According to WKMG ClickOrlando, the lithium battery explosion occurred around 5 p.m. at the security checkpoint at the entrance to gates 1-59.
“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,” Greater Orlando Aviation Authority spokesman Rod Johnson told WKMG.
WESH Channel 2 Orlando reported the incident affected thousands of people who were cleared from the gates and terminal and had to be rescreened at the TSA gates once the source of the explosion was discovered and authorities determined it posed no danger to the public. At least 10 bomb-sniffing dogs were brought into the airport to make a sweep of the building.
“After investigation, it has been determined that a lithium-ion battery inside a camera overheated and exploded,” Orlando International Airport tweeted. “As a result of the incident, a ground stop was issued and a number of flights were held. Passengers have been allowed to reenter and checkpoints have reopened.”
The exploding lithium battery was a relatively minor incident but it had an enormous impact on passengers and flights. The commotion delayed dozens of flights and thousands of travelers. The incident also triggered the cancelation of 24 flights.
According to the TSA, lithium batteries with more than 100-watt hours are allowed in carry-on bags but not in checked luggage. Authorities have not yet released information about the size of the lithium battery involved in the incident or other details at this time.