'Heightened Anxiety' Led To JFK Airport Panic

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A report into the evacuation of three terminals at New York's JFK airport in August has said that a heightened state of anxiety caused an overreaction which led to mass panic.

A review by state and federal officials found that "existing security protocols" proved inadequate when cheering patrons watching the Olympics in a terminal bar somehow sparked pandemonium the night of August 14.

Port Authority police in the terminal were alerted and drew weapons.

The report by security and law enforcement officials was prepared for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

Members of the Port Authority Police Department stand guard in Kennedy Airport after the mass rush for the exits.

Since the September 11 attacks, "the spectre of terrorism has embedded itself in the national psyche and created a persistent, abiding tension that can not be ignored, " the letter concluded.

Officials will also implement new mandatory training so all airport workers can better assist passengers during emergencies.

"The events at JFK were a wake-up call to rethink and reevaluate our security procedures to reflect the new, changing reality of 21st century threats and to better ensure the safety of all New Yorkers, " the governor said in a statement on Monday. Reports then started circulating on social media that shots had been fired in a terminal.

"Seeing TSA agents running away and PAPD with guns drawn created obvious fear and panic", the report says. As the result of the self-evacuation, "secure areas were compromised, which left the terminals, tarmac and airplanes vulnerable to a possible terrorist attack or other illegal conduct, " it added.

They recommend the Port Authority establish a central command center to distribute the latest information to all agencies.

Coordinate Training with Security Stakeholders - Require joint training exercise between security agencies, including the Port Authority, the TSA, Customs and Border Protection, security contractors, and external federal, state, and local first responders, including the NYPD and the New York City Fire Department.

Democratic US Senator Chuck Schumer of NY called on authorities to make the command centre a priority, saying he remains "deeply troubled that many loopholes remain at JFK, especially with camera security".