Suspicious packages investigated on cargo flights

Friday, October 29, 2010

WASHINGTON/LONDON - A series of suspicious packages were being investigated on cargo flights at airports in the US and Britain Friday.

One package was discovered on a flight from packaging firm UPS flying from Yemen to Chicago. It was held on a stopover at East Midlands airport, near Nottingham in central England early Friday, police in Britain said. Tests on the device, described as a “manipulated toner cartridge”, had come back “negative”.

Two other planes were isolated and checked for suspicious items at US airports in Philadelphia and Newark, New Jersey. One was another UPS cargo plane and the other an empty commercial plane.

“Out of an abundance of caution the planes were moved to a remote location where they are being met by law enforcement officials and swept,” the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said in a statement.

US broadcaster CNN reported the searches of cargo flights were the result of “specific intelligence” and that one of the packages was addressed to a Jewish synagogue in Chicago.

CNN initially reported that a bomb was found on the plane at East Midlands airport, operated by the packaging firm UPS, citing a source in law enforcement. It later reported the suspicious device contained wires and a white powder but did not appear to be an active bomb.

There were also reports of a UPS truck being stopped in the New York City borough of Queens. UPS said it was cooperating in the investigations with authorities.

US media also reported a separate scare on a plane in London. But the British Airport Authority (BAA), which operates most of Britain’s airports, said no suspicious devices had been found at major London airports.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard in London also said reports that a suspected bomb had been found on a flight in London were inaccurate.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We are not aware of anything in London. There is a police operation ongoing at East Midlands airport.”

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