JFK Airport terminal evacuated because of massive water main break

Randal Sanchez
January 8, 2018

Global flights were suspended into a flooded terminal at New York's flagship airport on Sunday, flung into chaos after a water main broke during brutally cold temperatures following a deadly winter storm.

There were about 3 inches (7.5 cm) of water inside the west end of Terminal 4, Scott Ladd, a spokesman for the Port Authority, said in an email.

Overall, 143 flights were cancelled due to the water main break.

Global flights into Terminal 4 were suspended and the water main break occurred just before 2pm (1900 GMT), said a spokesman for the Port Authority of NY and New Jersey that runs the airport.

"These included frozen equipment breakdowns, difficulties in baggage handling, staff shortages, and heavier than typical passenger loads", the statement said. The flooding took out two thirds of the arrivals area of Terminal 4, including customs and immigration processing facility.

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In the aftermath of the storm, passengers were kept on planes and waited hours to retrieve luggage as flights were delayed and cancelled, and a backup to get to terminal gates built up.

As of Sunday afternoon, almost 50 flights were cancelled and more than 300 flights were delayed arriving and departing the airport, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.

The Port Authority said the water pipe break appears to be weather related.

"It's getting like a madhouse", traveler Steven Litvin told NBC New York. Port Authority will be launching a full investigation to find out what happened. "Passengers are urged to contact their airlines for specific flight information", the airport said on Twitter. 12 global flights arrived during the time of the break - all have now been de-planed and processed through customs.

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