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Chaos erupts at Osaka airport after passenger with knife passes security

Passengers crowd the first-floor counter area at Osaka International Airport in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, on the morning of Sept. 26, 2019. (Mainichi/Yuka Obuno)

OSAKA -- A knife found in a passenger's carry-on luggage was allowed through an All Nippon Airways security checkpoint at Osaka International Airport on Sept. 26, prompting officials to rescreen passengers who had already passed through -- a move that caused several flights to be canceled.

The airline was unable to track down the passenger, and staff judged the knife could have been taken onto a plane. Because of this, the airline returned all passengers who had already gone through the checkpoint to the screening area. This resulted in the cancellation of 10 ANA flights at the airport, also known as Itami Airport. Three other flights were delayed.

According to the Osaka Airport Office of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and other sources, a metal detector at the checkpoint found what appeared to be a folding knife, but the worker in charge accidentally handed it back to the passenger. The worker then consulted with a superior, who judged that the item could not be brought on board.

Workers searched for the passenger, but were unable to find them, and so it was decided to rescreen all passengers who had gone through security. This included some passengers who had already boarded their flight and been seated. The checkpoint is on the second floor of the airport, but the rescreening left the airport crowded down to the ANA counters on the first floor.

Some passengers appeared exhausted, and one elderly person was seen crouching on the floor. Each time announcements were aired, irritated passengers could be heard calling for staff to "hurry up" and "do a proper job."

One 57-year-old passenger from Hiroshima in western Japan who was on his way to Aomori Prefecture in northeastern Japan on business, commented, "I feel like crying. I want them to quickly resume operations."

Shortly after noon it was announced that security checks would resume, but some departures were said to be delayed by as many as three hours, causing one angry passenger to tell staff, "I can't wait that long."

(Japanese original by Shuichi Abe, Osaka City News Department and Yuka Obuno, Hanshin Bureau)

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