Bomb threat shut Trondheim’s airport

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UPDATED: The main airport serving the central Norwegian city of Trondheim, Værnes Lufthavn, was evacuated Monday morning and later closed, after a telephone caller speaking in the local Trønder dialect warned of a bomb, possibly located in the terminal building. Police also closed all roads located around the airport and nearby train lines were halted as well.

The Værnes airport serving Trondheim and the surrounding region of Trøndelag had to be evacuated Monday morning after a phone threat. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

The Værnes airport serving Trondheim and the surrounding region of Trøndelag had to be evacuated Monday morning after a phone threat. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

“The bomb threat came in at 10:02am, and it was a threat we’re taking seriously,” Trude Skogen of the Nord-Trøndelag Police District told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

NRK reported that specially trained dogs used to sniff out bombs were being sent to the airport to go through the terminal building. Police were also investigating the origin of the phone call, in the hopes of tracking down the man who made the threat.

Road traffic around the airport resumed by mid-day, but the road into the airport remained closed. Around a thousand people working at the airport and traveling through it were evacuated. Airport officials estimated that all told, as many as 5,000 passengers were affected by the airport closure. All flights to Trondheim were suspended.

Per Jarle Ingstad, chief of the international airport at Værnes, told NRK that “a clear warning” was received by telephone that prompted the police to “choose to evacuate.” Ingstad wouldn’t elaborate on the nature of the warning.

The evacuation order was announced over the airport’s loudspeaker system a few minutes after 10am, according to an NRK editor who as at the airport, but he claimed the evacuation  proceeded slowly. “Folks didn’t seem to be overly concerned about the messages given,” Bjørnar Breckan of NRK Østlandssendingen said.

Police clearly were, with the state highway department (Statens vegvesen) reporting that the tunnel (Helltunnelen) on the E6 highway leading to Værnes was closed while the Værnes Tunnel heading for the airport also was closed. County Road 705 was closed at the Hell Bridge in the direction leading to the airport because of the phoned-in bomb threat. Both reopened later.

State railway NSB reported that all train traffic around the airport was halted as well. It later resumed but trains weren’t stopping at the airport’s station.

Aircraft that landed at the airport weren’t allowed to taxi up to the terminal building. All takeoffs and landings at the airport were thus severely disrupted.

At least one flight full of passengers was ordered to remain parked well away from the terminal building. Among the passengers was the new broadcasting chief of NRK, Thor Gjermund Eriksen, who was on board SAS’ flight from Oslo that landed in Trondheim around 10am.

“We’re parked around 120 meters away from the terminal,” Eriksen could report by mobile phone to his own editorial staff. “We have seen that passengers who were ready to board other flights were instead led out of the jetways and around the building.”

Eriksen added that “it’s a strange situation, but everyone is calm. There’s no drama.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund