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Calif. terminal bomb scare blamed on oxygen tanks

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Oxygen tanks in an elderly woman’s bag caused a bomb scare Friday that led to a partial shutdown of a San Francisco International Airport terminal and delayed several flights, airport officials said.

Security screeners saw two metal cylinders with wires attached during an X-ray scan of the woman’s bag, airport spokesman Mike McCarron said. When questioned, the woman said she did not know what the items were.

“She said, `I don’t know what’s in there because I didn’t pack the bag,'” McCarron said. “That’s a big red flag.”

The security checkpoint for Delta Airlines flights in Terminal One was closed off around 11:30 a.m., and a bomb squad was called to the scene. The checkpoint was reopened two hours later when it was determined the tanks posed no danger.

The woman was allowed to continue on her travels, McCarron said.

During the shutdown, passengers getting off Delta flights were taken on buses to other gates, McCarron said. Passengers boarding Delta flights were routed through other security checkpoints and bussed to their planes. The shutdown delayed six flights, Delta spokesman Anthony Black said.

David Smith, 31, arrived at the airport Friday afternoon to fly home to Washington, D.C. He was stopped by police who were keeping passengers away from the checkpoint. As he waited, Smith saw traffic also being stopped from driving up to the drop-off area as a bomb squad truck sat outside.

“They’ve been pushing us about 100 yards at a time, pushing people back from the Delta security screening area,” Smith said.

Benedict Corpuz works as a flight attendant for another airline. He was at the airport on his day off to meet a friend and watched the drama unfold. He said he didn’t think the shutdown would prove especially disruptive, since fog so often causes delays in San Francisco anyway.

“Today is such a clear day, I think you’d get right back on track after this,” Corpuz, 31, said.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)