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Kennedy Airport terminal emptied after security breach

A terminal at Kennedy Airport was evacuated Saturday after a passenger went through a door meant for employees, officials said.

Dozens of flights were delayed and hundreds of travelers had to go through security screening again after the man, who officials said had arrived on a flight from Orlando, went through the secure door at Terminal 8 around 3:30 p.m.

Officials last night were still seeking the man, whose image was captured on a security camera. It was not immediately clear whether the passenger would face charges, according to a source familiar with the situation.

The breach brought traffic at the terminal to a halt and forced employees and passengers to repeat security screening. Three planes waiting to take off were brought back to the terminal and the passengers told to disembark, said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Security lines began moving again around 6 p.m. and were largely back to normal by 8 p.m.

Screening was delayed because airport employees themselves had to be rescreened before passengers, a customer service representative said.

Terminal 8 handles domestic and international flights for American Airlines.

"Other than going in circles, we haven't done anything for two hours," said Greg Spencer, of Michigan, who was traveling to Barcelona with colleagues Mike Fauble, 54, and Reuben Peterson, also of Michigan.

Passengers were told their flights would wait for them and not to push each other on the security line. In addition to American, Air Berlin, Finnair, Jet Airways, Malev Hungarian and Mexicana fly out of the terminal.

Ted Washington, 50, an artist in town for an art show and due to head back home to San Diego, said he'd already passed through the security checkpoint, but was on line again.

"My flight was due to leave at 5 p.m.," he said.

The incident is the third evacuation in five months at airports in the region. A man was charged last week with breaching security at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey on Jan. 3. Flights were grounded for hours and passengers were rescreened while air safety officials searched for him.

In August, a terminal at LaGuardia Airport was evacuated after police tackled a disturbed man who was carrying a device that looked like a bomb but turned out to be harmless.

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