Passengers reportedly stranded for days at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport due to a massive winter storm have now had to deal with their luggage being soaked due to a burst water main.
The airport initially said international flights into its terminal four had been suspended as footage emerged of water streaming from the ceiling and flooding the terminal floor.
The Port Authority, which operates the airport, said the water pipe break appeared to be weather-related. Flights later resumed but with delays, it said.
“What happened at JFK Airport is unacceptable, and travellers expect and deserve better,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said in a statement.
The authority said a water pipe that fed the terminal’s sprinkler system broke, which caused flooding and led to a temporary power cut in some areas as a safety measure.
Hundreds of suitcases are seen soaked on the terminal floor, with passengers stranded due to a heavy winter storm that has played havoc with air travel in the country’s east since last week.
Some frustrated passengers had been sleeping on the airport floor while waiting on delayed flights, CNN reported.
About eight centimetres of water spilled into the terminal’s west end and power was cut to the affected areas.
Breakage appears ‘weather-related’
At about 2pm on Sunday (local time), a pipe that feeds the sprinkler system in the privately run terminal broke, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport.
The Port Authority said it would investigate the incident, which appeared to be “weather-related”.
“We have launched an investigation into the incident to determine exactly what occurred and why an internal pipe was not weather protected,” Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton said.
He said the Port Authority would “hold those responsible accountable for any shortcomings we find”.
The airport had arrival delays of up to two-and-a-half hours and some flights were diverted.
Even before the burst water main, the airport was struggling to cope with the fallout from the winter storm.
Over the weekend, delays were caused, in part, by a collision on the tarmac between two planes on Friday (local time), which created further chaos for travellers.
At least 18 people have died amid the weather system that saw part of the country’s north-east become the second-coldest place on earth.
Winds of more than 144 kilometres per hour swirled around New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, the north-east’s highest peak, at a temperature of -38 degrees Celsius and a wind chill of -69C.
It tied for second place, with Armstrong, Ontario, as the coldest spot in the world.