In Lauderdale Chaos, 12K Stranded, 25K Lost Items

Airport struggles to sort through abandoned belongings in wake of shooting
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 8, 2017 8:44 AM CST
Passengers wait in the departure line at terminal 2 Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, after the airport re-opened. Investigators continued their work downstairs in the baggage area of terminal 2 at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood...   (Mike Stocker)
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(Newser) – Dan and Janice Kovacs and their two children were passing through airport security when the gunfire erupted. They were shoeless—with wallets, passports, and carry-on items on a conveyer belt—when they sprang into the masses running to safety, reports the AP. Now they're among stranded travelers at Fort Lauderdale trying to recover what the airport says are 25,000 pieces of luggage, cellphones, and other belongings separated from their owners during Friday's shooting rampage. "We have no IDs, we have no passports, no money," Janice, 39, said Saturday, wearing borrowed sandals. "We just had to leave our stuff and run. All our stuff is being processed. We might not even get that until Monday," she said. The shooting Friday, which killed five and wounded six, also stranded about 12,000 travelers, some kept on planes for seven hours while the airport was on lockdown.

The Florida Highway Patrol sent computer-equipped buses to the airport Saturday to issue temporary ID cards to help travelers get out of state and even abroad. "We are doing what we can to help," Sgt. Mark Wysocki said. Gov. Rick Scott said cruise ship companies were asked to accept travelers with provisional IDs. Airport spokesman Greg Meyer said most bags won't be available until Monday. The airport hired an outside firm to collect discarded bags and sort them by where they were found so they can be identified. Those with lost luggage were told to call a toll-free number. Larry Edwards, a retired electric lineman, said he and wife Joy won't be able to get home to Columbus, Ohio, until Monday and pointed to the clothes they had put on Friday morning. "All we have is this and our smelly selves," he says. (The shooting suspect could face the death penalty.)

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