Panic at Atlanta airport after gun accidentally fired


(Reuters) – A gun that was fired by accident at Atlanta’s airport sent terrified travelers scrambling onto the tarmac on Saturday, with no one injured but halting flights during the busy Thanksgiving holiday period.

About two hours after the 1:30 p.m. blast in the security screening area at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, officials gave an “all-clear” and flights resumed, the hub said on Twitter.

“More and more people started running – there was screaming,” said traveler Erika Zeidler, who sent photographs to CNN showing dozens of people rushing onto the tarmac, some pulling suitcases.

Immediate fear that an active shooter had opened fire gripped the crowd, which rushed out of the terminal and onto the tarmac.

Hartsfield-Jackson was the world’s busiest airport in 2021, according to aviation analytics provider Official Airline Guide (OAG).

The Atlanta airport was expected to be particularly busy during the Thanksgiving travel period, with prepandemic-size crowds expected at security checkpoints from Friday, Nov. 19 through Sunday, Nov. 28, the Transportation Security Administration said.

No explanation was immediately given for the blast. The airport tweeted a brief description of the incident and its aftermath.

“At approximately 1:30 pm today a weapon accidentally discharged at ATL’s security screening area,” the airport said on Twitter.

“Officials have given an all-clear for #ATLAirport and normal operations are beginning,” the airport tweeted at 3:24 p.m.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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