Military employee set off bomb scare
November 23, 2010
The main airport serving Bergen on Norway’s west coast re-opened after a suspicious suitcase set off a full-scale bomb alarm Tuesday morning. The bag in question apparently contained military equipment, and security officials aren’t being accused of overreacting.
It remained unclear what exactly was in the mysterious baggage that spurred the evacuation of Flesland airport outside Bergen and disrupted travel plans for as many as 10,000 passengers.
Police referred to it merely as “en gjenstand” (an item) that could have resembled an explosive device. It was being sent to a military employee in Trondheim, with no accompanying passenger.
Police said that when the bag failed to show up in Trondheim, the unidentified employee took contact with police in Bergen. He reportedly had heard news bulletins of the airport closing, “and wondered whether it was his bag that set off the alarms,” Norvald Visnes, police station chief for southern Bergen, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).
Terje Hilland of the Hordaland Police District told NRK that “there was no bomb in the bag,” but said airport security and the baggage handlers who examined the bag and its mysterious contents reacted properly and were correct in sounding the alarm.
He said the bag was collected by “folks from the military” and that airport operations were returning to normal by midday.
Police were expected to pose some questions to the military officials involved, noting that “when police seize an item, it automatically becomes a criminal case.” It was unclear whether any charges would be filed.
Lines were long at check-in counters and security as passengers were allowed back into the terminal building after being evacuated for nearly three hours.
“Security must come before everything, but you can see what happens when we have to close an airport like this,” Alf Sognefest, terminal chief at Flesland, told NRK. “It created lots of inconvenience for many people.”