CHICAGO Federal agents at Chicago's O'Hare Airport averted "a potential catastrophic event" when they stopped a package containing a live military flare from being loaded onto a flight to Japan, a federal agency said on Monday.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the Vietnam War-era device, identified as an M49A1 phosphorous trip flare, was found in the mail as it was passing through the busy facility on Thursday.
Brian Bell, a customs supervisor, said he did not know whether the package that contained the device would have been routed onto a passenger or cargo plane.
The device, which burns at a temperature of 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, had been listed on the shipping manifest as a "military training dummie", the agency said.
When agents looking for contraband in the mail contacted the sender for more details, they learned he had acquired the device online from an estate sale and was sending it to a buyer in Japan.
Bomb experts from the Chicago Police Department determined the package contained an incendiary device and rendered it safe. The case is under investigation. The Customs and Border Protection agency said agents did not believe there was any intent to harm.
(Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)