Minneapolis airport scare was false alarm

MINNEAPOLIS Fri Apr 27, 2012 12:20pm EDT

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MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - A bomb scare that shut a terminal at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for 90 minutes on Friday morning was caused by a passenger carrying what he said was a water filtration system in his checked baggage, an official said.

Police questioned and released the man without charges after the materials were determined to not be explosive, airport spokesman Patrick Hogan said. He declined to identify the man because he was not charged.

"The questionable items in the bag were two PVC pipes capped at both ends filled with a granular material," Hogan said. "There were also a number of wires in the bag that were not connected to the pipes."

"The individual claimed it was a device for water filtration," Hogan said.

About 1,000 people were cleared from Terminal 2 at the airport after the materials triggered an alert for a possible explosive substance, Hogan said.

The police bomb squad from Bloomington, a suburb adjoining the airport, was called to the airport, took the materials and the terminal was reopened soon after, Hogan said.

Airport police released the man after the materials were found not to be explosive and he was rebooked on another flight, Hogan said.

At Terminal 2, passengers take checked bags to a scanner where Transportation Security Administration personnel check them. Passengers are screened at a single security checkpoint.

The baggage scanners are designed to trigger an alarm when they detect explosive compounds or those that could be used as part of an explosive, Hogan said.

The public area of the terminal was cleared and approaching roads were closed temporarily during the incident to ensure safety, the TSA said in a statement.

Terminal 2 is the smaller of the airport's two terminals, serving Southwest Airlines, AirTran, Sun Country and Icelandair. The larger Terminal 1 and airport runways were not affected by the incident, Hogan said.

(Writing by Dan Burns; Editing by Vicki Allen and Greg McCune)

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