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Lost passenger grounds flights as US flyers now face security clampdown

Flights out of New Jersey airport were grounded for hours today after a man bypassed security by walking through a checkpoint exit into the secure side of a terminal.

Authorities were still searching for the man at Newark Liberty International Airport. He had been seen walking down an exit lane at Terminal C, which is used by Continental Airlines Inc, a spokeswoman said.

Screening was halted while air safety authorities looked at surveillance tapes to try to identify the man.

Passengers were taken from the secure side of the terminal and moved to the open side to go through screening again.

Flights later resumed after significant disruption.

Passenger Alison Day (47) was supposed to leave for Manchester with a party of seven including an 18-month-old and five-year-old. "I'm not angry that this is happening, but I'm angry that there was a lack of organisation," she said.

She said her party, headed home after a Caribbean cruise, was escorted out of Continental's lounge but given no further instructions.

Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration said passengers flying into the US from nations regarded as state sponsors of terrorism and "countries of interest" will be subject to enhanced screening techniques, such as body scans and pat-downs. Starting today, all passengers on US-bound international flights will be subject to random screening.

The US State Department lists Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism. The other countries whose passengers will face enhanced screening include Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man who allegedly tried to set off an explosive device aboard a Northwest airliner on Christmas Day, has told US investigators he received training from al-Qa'ida operatives in Yemen.