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Fire damage delays flights at Miami airport

MIAMI (Reuters) - A fuel tank fire damaged the pumping equipment at Miami International Airport and scores of flights were delayed or canceled Thursday.

Many planes were landing and taking off but 83 flights had been canceled or delayed by late morning, airport spokesman Marc Henderson said.

Firefighters were still investigating the blaze that broke out about 11 p.m./0300 GMT Wednesday at a fuel tank farm on the airport perimeter. It was extinguished by 1:20 a.m./0520 GMT, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokeswoman Cristina Armand said.

The fire was not near the runways or the terminal but it damaged the pumps that feed fuel into underground lines and into the hydrant and hose system normally used to fuel planes.

"The trucks are having to refuel the planes and it takes a lot longer period of time," Henderson said.

The Miami airport is a major hub for AMR Corp's American Airlines. Henderson said American and American Eagle flights were the most affected.

It was unclear how long it would take to repair the damage. Henderson urged passengers to check with their airline before heading to the airport to avoid becoming stranded.

Airport operations also were briefly disrupted Thursday by a false bomb scare. An explosives-sniffing dog gave the alert to a suspicious package in a luggage carousel area, Miami-Dade Police Detective Ida Fina-Milian said. Police evacuated the area while a bomb squad checked the package.

"It was nothing," Fina-Milian said. "The situation was resolved and everything is back open again."

(Reporting by Jane Sutton; Editing by Bill Trott)

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