Friday, December 24, 1999

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Arrivals on a flight from Japan wait to be processed by
customs as the international terminal at Honolulu Airport
was closed for more than 2 1/2 hours this morning on one
of the busiest travel days of the year. Some flights to the
mainland were canceled, but interisland operations
continued as normal.

Bomb scare brings
international air
terminal to halt

The device turned out to be
a battery charger, but officials
say the discovery proves
that their system works

By Jaymes K. Song
and Pat Omandam


The international terminal at Honolulu Airport was evacuated this morning for nearly three hours on one of the busiest travel days of the year because a suspicious suitcase was found on a flight from Japan.

The device was detected by an airports canine inspection unit. But upon later inspection it turned out to be a battery charger owned by a young family from Japan. Still, the threat closed the international arrival area of the airport from 7:40 a.m. to 10:36 a.m.

"Fortunately for us overall, our system worked very, very well on this potential bomb threat," said Airports Administrator Jerry Matsuda.

"There was no bomb in itself and we're very happy for that. The people involved in the intradiction of it did a great job," he said.

Meanwhile, at least nine flights from Japan, Korea and Canada were waiting on the tarmack this morning and passengers were not being allowed to disembark.

Paradise Sky Cap Wayne Ratliff said the last flight he helped clear at the international terminal was at 6:50 a.m. Since then all other passengers on arriving international flights have been held or detained, he said.

"It's never happened before at the airport," he said.

Most mainland flights appeared to be arriving and departing, but a Delta Airlines flight to Los Angeles was canceled because of the incident.

Passengers on departing international flights were being sent to other gates outside the international terminal. Interisland operations also appeared to be continuing as normal.

People waiting for friends and relatives to arrive milled around outside the terminal.

Stephen Paloma was waiting to pick up his daughter from flight from Japan. When he got here at 8 a.m. airport security and immigration officials began telling everyone to leave the international baggage arrival area because of a bomb scare.

"They shut everything down." he said.

Officials said two suitcases were found by customs and they looked suspicious, airport security employees said.

Bong Kim, from Hawaii Kai, was supposed to pick up his brother from a Korean Air flight that was scheduled to arrive at 8 a.m. "It's okay. It's the holidays. Why be upset." he said.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin