JFK Airport terminal evacuated because of large water main break

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Before it delayed its reopening, dozens of flights - many of them worldwide - were already flying to the airport, assuming it would be open by Thursday afternoon. As if the chaos from delayed and canceled flights weren't enough to set workers on edge, they have had rare and unusual events to deal with as well.

The Port Authority of NY and New Jersey said it is investigating why a water pipe that feeds a sprinkler system broke - and promised to "hold all those responsible accountable".

On its Twitter feed Sunday, the Port Authority said that Saturday's "extreme cold, amid the ongoing recovery from Thursday's storm, created a cascading series of issues for the airlines and terminal operators".

Thursday's storm raked the East Coast with heavy snowfall, glacial temperatures and high winds, forcing the cancellation of flights. Frozen equipment, luggage-handling problems and staff shortages slowed down operations on the ground, and as flights got backlogged, gates clogged up, and some arriving passengers waited on the tarmac for hours and ended up being bused to terminals.

Images from a CNN report showed standing water in Terminal 4 in the busy NY hub.

The water main break resulted in Terminal 4 being flooded, triggering evacuations and causing a huge luggage pile-up.

As an example, Mr. Rabinowitz cited Iberia Flight 6253, which got halfway to NY from Madrid before making a U-turn and going back to Spain: an eight-hour fight to nowhere. My husband and I flew out after a delay of six hours on a Virgin flight to Heathrow. "I was anxious this morning, but it looks much better now", he said as his wife and 10-year-old son slept in the airport.

This has not been a good weekend to travel through JFK Airport.

Around 8 p.m. ET Sunday, 55 flights out of JFK had been canceled and about 200 delayed, according to Flight Aware, a flight tracking website. Though the Kuwait Airlines flight was full of passengers, no one was injured.

The FAA diverted 17 flights Saturday, officials said.

The rest of the US wasn't spared.

Part of the terminal was evacuated Sunday after water cascaded into the waiting area and swamped baggage carousel areas.

"What occurred this weekend was completely and totally unacceptable", Cotton said.

Passenger patience wore increasingly thin as long delays and compounding cancellations continued several days after a major winter storm battered the Tri-State Area. Friday night, an empty Sunwing aircraft bumped into a WestJet flight arriving from Cancun with 168 passengers and six crew on board.