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Traffic Control Technical Problem Snarls US East Coast Flights

People stand in line at Washington's Reagan National Airport after technical issues at a Federal Aviation Administration center in Virginia caused delays, Aug. 15, 2015.

Flights to and from New York, Washington and other U.S. East Coast airports were disrupted for several hours Saturday by technical problems in the government's air traffic control network.

The Federal Aviation Administration reported that an unspecified technical issue at one of its air traffic centers outside Washington forced controllers to order delays in takeoffs and landings. The slowdown at all Washington- and New York-area airports quickly spread to other cities along the East Coast and beyond.

Takeoffs were being delayed by more than 45 minutes at some airports, the FAA reported, and arriving flights were ordered to circle in holding patterns overhead for similar periods. Problems were worst in Virginia, Maryland and Florida.

The agency announced late in the afternoon that the unexplained "automation" problem had been resolved and that the restrictions were to be lifted. It did not explain details of the technical problem at its regional traffic center in Leesburg, Virginia.

The government agency did not indicate whether an accident or computer-security problem may have been involved.