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Jacksonville Int'l Airport reopens after suspicious packages scare

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Updated: 10/02/2013 12:30 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Authorities have reopened Jacksonville International Airport after being shutdown for hours due to two suspicious packages.

One package, described as a device by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, had to be rendered safe by the bomb squad.

Employees started returning to the airport just before Action News at 11 p.m.

Stranded travelers were shuttled to nearby hotels, but those filled up quickly.  After the airport reopened, some travelers returned to the terminal to sleep because the hotels were booked.

The airport was shut down just before 6 p.m.

Michael Stewart, a spokesman for the airport, said one of the packages was found in the garage. The second was found in the terminal.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office bomb squad responded. Authorities shut down all flights. The evacuation forced a number of passengers to stay on planes at the gates, waiting to be evacuated and cleared by security.

"Each station is unique and we take each one seriously just in case it's an explosive device," said Stewart.

The courtesy parking lots filled up quickly with people waiting to pick up loved ones at the airport and first responders.

One Action News viewer told us he heard police use loudspeakers to tell people to evacuate the airport due to suspicious activity.

Jordan said people calmly left the terminal and there was no sense of panic. Police were inside the terminal directing people outside.

Lance Grooms, on his way back to Atlanta, told Action News he saw police handcuff a man dressed in all black. He appeared to be in his mid 20s, according to Grooms.

Grooms said there were hundreds of people with him, including about 20 TSA agents. Grooms said the agents said nothing but "Get out!"

Stewart said with the airport closed, the airlines are now responsible for the passengers.

Stewart said passengers were moved to the Crowne Plaza, Hilton or Jacksonville Airport Hotel (formerly the Clarion).

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said family members can pick up their loved ones at the Jacksonville Airport Hotel.

FedEX and UPS trucks were allowed back into the airport about an hour before the airport reopened to employees.

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Flight Delays

Incoming traffic blocked at JIA. (Noel McLaren)
Incoming traffic blocked at JIA. (Noel McLaren)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The airport evacuation is causing some flight problems.

Michael Stewart, a spokesman for the airport, says there are 7 canceled flights so far.

American Airlines said some of its planes are being delayed and diverted.

A flight from Miami to Jacksonville has been diverted to Gainesville.

JAXairport said in a tweet that some inbound passengers are being transported to two nearby hotels, the Hilton Garden Inn and the Crowne Plaza.

Southwest and AirTran told Action News they had a couple of flights diverted to Orlando and another diverted to Atlanta.  The Southwest flights came from Las Vegas (WN 158) and Fort Lauderdale (WN 1634).

The passengers diverted to Orlando would likely be flown to JIA as long as the evacuation doesn't last too long, according to Southwest.

The AirTran flight came out of Atlanta. Another AirTran flight in Atlanta is being held.

There are also a couple of Southwest flights out of Nashville and Baltimore that are delayed.

Link: Check the status of your flight

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