A ‘chemical incident’ caused a stir at Manchester Airport earlier this week, after a mysterious white powder was found in the hand luggage of a passenger.
Tests have yet to determine the identity of the substance, but officials are confident that the powder poses no risk to aircraft or travellers.
The passenger, a man in his late twenties, was catching a plane from Manchester to Heathrow, when security staff spotted the suspicious chemical in his carry-on bag. The airport informed the local police, who sent a bomb squad to the site.
Manchester’s Terminal 3 was closed for six hours while officers combed the aisles and armchairs for evidence of an explosive threat, but came up empty handed. The terminal was reopened at 7pm, and the passenger released without charge.
Experts continue to puzzle over the nature of the white powder. Cocaine, gunpowder, and even freeze-dried chemicals can be carried in powder form, but scientists have found no correlation with known contraband. The mysterious substance was also found in the passenger’s main suitcase.
Airport bosses reported minimal disruption, amounting to a few flight delays only.
Manchester police have since apologised for the trouble – "The powder was unidentified, so we had to take every precaution to protect the safety of passengers at the airport. Public safety is our primary concern.”
Visitors to the Manchester Evening News website have speculated that the passenger might have been testing the sensitivity of airport security, especially as the alert came just days after the Home Office raised the terror threat level from ‘substantial’, to ‘severe’.