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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted at 5:14 p.m., Sunday, May 11, 2003

Hawai'i-bound container explodes at San Francisco airport

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — A Hawai'i-bound shipping container packed with electronic test equipment exploded inside an airliner's cargo hold today while passengers were boarding, officials said.

A battery pack in the container of electronic gear may have been to blame for the small blast, said Mike McCarron, a spokesman for San Francisco International Airport.

United Flight No. 33 was preparing for takeoff on a flight to Lihue on Kaua'i.

"As the baggage handler was moving bags around the cargo hold one of the packed shipping containers exploded, a minor explosion, and blew the hinges off" the container, McCarron said.

There were no injuries, McCarron said, but the baggage handler was "upset."

He said the container was well padded and insulated and would likely not have caused any damage to the plane had it been airborne.

Passengers were evacuated and rescheduled for an alternate flight.