Chaos at @JFKairport terminal 4 after water main break. Listen to passengers describe what happened: “It was just a madhouse. They were just like pushing people out. Nobody was moving. Everyone was confused.” pic.twitter.com/Y9CdVQcCUX— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaanKim) January 7, 2018
Around 2 p.m. a feeder pipe to the sprinkler system broke, most likely due to the cold weather. Fire alarms went off, and workers shut down power in the customs hall as a precaution. Port Authority officials say it is unclear why the pipe was not weather-protected.
.@JFKairport Terminal 4 update:— Kennedy Airport (@JFKairport) January 7, 2018
- No international arrivals at this time
- International departures not affected
- AirTrainJFK operating normally
- Taxis rerouted to departure level
- Traffic heavy into T4
- Passengers advised to contact their airline for flight status
The flooding took out two thirds of the arrivals area of Terminal 4, including customs and immigration processing facility. The arrivals level frontage areas were also required to close, but they are in the process of re-opening.
12 international flights arrived during the time of the break - all have now been de-planed and processed through customs. Because there was no baggage claim, seven planes full of people went through customs and were told to leave the airport through a side door without their bags. Bags are still on most airplanes - this means those planes cannot be turned around for departures until they have been emptied.
UPDATE: @JFKairport says departures at terminal 4 not affected by water main break but I’ve never seen it this backed up here before. #JFK airport #jfkchaos #JFKdelays #jfkairport pic.twitter.com/llubIuISSv— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaanKim) January 7, 2018
Overall, 143 flights were cancelled due to the water main break. 32 of those flights were international, and 38 were Delta.
At one point, passengers told Eyewitness News that airport officials wanted to do a full evacuation of the building, but didn't since it was so cold.
Port Authority will be launching a full investigation to find out what happened.
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