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FAA: Pilots Of 5 Planes Report Being Hit By Green Laser Beam Over NY, NJ

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The FAA now says five pilots reported laser strikes over New York and New Jersey Tuesday night.

Earlier they had said there were just four incidents.

They happened between 9:25 p.m. and 12:10 a.m. Wednesday.

As CBS2's Ilana Gold reports, the laser danger worries both passengers and pilots.

American 1976 reported being illuminated by a laser around 9:25 p.m. when it was flying at 3,000 feet about 20 miles south of Newark Liberty International Airport, the FAA said.

About 15 minutes later, Express Jet Flight 5887 also reported a laser strike about five miles west of Warwick. Both planes were flying at 7,000 feet, the FAA said.

Around the same time, Shuttle America 3482 was heading to Newark when it was hit with a green laser beam about seven miles west of Warwick, New York, the FAA said.

Then just after midnight, Spirit Airlines 710 reported seeing a laser when it was flying at 7,500 feet about 20 miles southwest of LaGuardia Airport, the FAA said.

United Airlines 1933 reported seeing a laser at 3,000 feet 12 miles southwest of Newark at 11:28 p.m.

In an air traffic control recording archived on the website, the tower can be heard warning pilots about the strikes.

"A laser illumination event 2-0 miles south of Newark, green in color, 3,000 -- use caution," the air traffic controller said.

Pointing a laser at a plane is a federal crime, punishable by thousands of dollars in fines or even prison time. The glaring, green lights could potentially leave a pilot at the plane's controls temporarily blind.

"It's dangerous and we are going to have an accident," said aviation expert JP Tristani.

No one was hurt in Tuesday's incidents, but local air travelers Wednesday were concerned.

"That's horrifying," Alyson Fortner from Crown Heights told CBS2's Ilana Gold. "Why would you want to put someone in danger like that?"

"If I think about it, yeah I get worried," said Marine Park resident Magdy Poutros.

"I hope we don't die, I hope we don't crash," said passenger Charlie Thomas.

Federal authorities have been looking into 12 other laser strikes from last Wednesday where green lasers were pointed at commercial planes over New York and New Jersey.

It's unclear if all the incidents are related.

The FAA says the number of laser strikes across the country rose by 121 this week alone. As of July 10, more than 2,800 have been reported nationwide this year.

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