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Smoking camera battery mistaken for shooting, Orlando Airport evacuated

An incident at Orlando International Airport led to flight cancelations, delays and an evacuation of the airport.

Around 5 pm on Friday evening, a loud noise was reported in front of a security checkpoint.

“In an abundance of caution, passengers inside the terminal were instructed to exit the building while Orlando Police and Orlando International Airport staff investigated,” the airport said.

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Once searched, the noise was discovered to have been a lithium ion camera battery that had exploded and caught fire inside the camera bag, which began to smoke.

The Greater Orlando International Aviation Authority CEO Phil Brown said in a letter posted online Saturday that the passenger “immediately dropped the bag and those around them moved away from it. Emergency services arrived quickly and moved the bag farther away” from the crowds.

Thousands of people were forced to go back through the TSA lines, causing severe delays and flight cancelations, WESH 2 reported.

The loud event also led to panic throughout the airport, with some believing the noise and smoke were from gunshots.

“Others hearing the luggage being dropped, stanchions falling, and rapid movement mistook the sounds as gunfire and within seconds a spontaneous evacuation of the main terminal occurred,” Brown said in the letter.

Orlando police posted on Twitter that there was no shooting.

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Brown said in the letter that emergency staff tried to restore calm “but as everyone is aware, a few trying to communicate a message to this large of a mass is a daunting task.”

After an investigation, the battery responsible for the incident was reported to have been a camera battery, which is legal aboard flights. The Federal Aviation Administration allows lithium ion batteries under 100 watt hours in carry-on luggage, which includes most consumer-sized batteries for cell phones, cameras and other personal electronic devices.

Lithium batteries have been known to explode before, and as of June, it was reported that there had been at least 17 lithium-ion related incidents on planes this year. 

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