(CBS/AP) Authorities quarantined an arriving US Airways flight for several hours Friday at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport after a passenger claimed he had smallpox, an airline spokesman said.
Health officials quarantined the Airbus A319 carrying 112 passengers and four crew members coming in from New Orleans, US Airways spokesman Morgan Durrant said.
Durrant said he could not confirm a TV report that the passenger was intoxicated.
Scott White, a spokesman at Carolinas Medical Center, said the man does not have the disease, which was eradicated in 1980.
“There’s no evidence of smallpox,” said Rick Christenbury, spokesman for Mecklenburg County Health Department.
One passenger told CBS affiliate WBTV correspondent Tom Roussey that an announcement on board the plane said, “‘Sit down, there’s an emergency security threat.’ And I fly all the time, that’s the first time I heard that, so it was pretty scary.”
Passengers said communication was not very good but the flight crew kept passengers calm, though the extended delay caused many to miss connecting flights.
The plane landed around 3:30 p.m. and was cleared around 7 p.m., when officials confirmed the threat was false.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police spokeswoman Julie Hill said no decision had been made on whether to charge the man, whose condition was still being evaluated Friday night. She said the matter may be up to federal authorities.
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