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Olympic Security Takes Wait-and-See Posture on TWA Crash

July 18, 1996

ATLANTA (AP) _ Olympic and Atlanta airport officials say their already high level of security will suffice unless there is reason to take extra precautions in light of the TWA jet explosion in New York.

At Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, spokesman Sherrie Hauser-Simmons said today that airport officials are in regular contact with the Federal Aviation Administration but have so far received no orders to change the current security level.

She said security is exactly the same as it was on Wednesday.

Airport spokesman John Kennedy said Wednesday night that Hartsfield security began tightening in October and we’re working really tightly right now.″ But, he said, ``there are levels we could go to if the FAA required us.″

At the airport this morning, there were no obvious signs of any changes in security that has been in place in the last few months because of the Olympics. Those measures included installation of advanced metal detectors and frequent announcements that passengers should report attempts by strangers to carry anything unusual onto planes.

Frank Benaquista, who was headed home to Pittsburgh after a business trip to Atlanta, said it seemed to him that the sensitivity of the airport metal detectors was higher this morning.

``When I went through, my glasses set it off. Then they swept me. That’s the first time that’s ever happened,″ said Benaquista, who described himself as a frequent traveler.

He said the crash Wednesday night did not make him unduly worried about traveling.

Roger Grove, a businessman from Albany, Ga., who was headed to Detroit, said he did not experience anything unusual passing through security today. ``It was just normal, routine,″ he said.

Similarly, passengers arriving in Atlanta to attend the Olympics, said they did not notice anything unusual on their flight.

``I’ve never been in Atlanta before, but as far as going out of LAX, it was completely normal,″ said Tracy Migliazza of Los Angeles.

She said she was confident she would be safe in Atlanta.

``I absolutely think they’ve taken precautions, not only now, but up to now,″ she said.

At the airport Welcome Center, set up to process athletes and Olympic officials, things also seemed to be operating as normal. People there said they had no concerns about security in Atlanta.

``I feel safe. I am not anxious for myself,″ said Eric Favory, a member of the medical staff for the French Olympic team who was at the processing center.

Mike Kelly, a TWA vice president, noted that the FAA had been placed on an increased level of security because of the Olympics, which begin Friday, but said there had been no specific threats against TWA or the flight.

Asked about the possibility of a bomb on the plane, FAA spokesman Eliot Brenner said, ``We can’t discuss security issues.″

Michele Verdier, a spokeswoman for the International Olympic Committee, said the IOC by late Wednesday had ``heard nothing to suggest there’s any connection to the Olympics.″

``We have nothing really to say at this stage except that this is a terrible tragedy,″ she said.

A spokesman at the State Law Enforcement Command, the group organizing 4,500 state law enforcement officers during the Olympics, said that agency would know more today.

``We’re still analyzing the data,″ Don Daniel said Wednesday night.

``We feel very confident with the type of security we have in place,″ he said. But ``I’m sure we’ve got some heads-up going on.″

Lyn May, spokeswoman for the security office of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, said ACOG will watch the investigation closely but said it was too soon to do anything.

There didn’t seem to be any change in security in downtown Atlanta today. Officers and guards patrolling the area said they had not been alerted of anything.

Officer Nate Williams, an Atlanta police spokesman, said he expected that extra security measures would be taken but could not give details.

President Clinton is scheduled to open the games Friday night.

Update hourly