Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Airline "Marker" Bag Caused MSP Evacuations

A bag that drew a response from a bomb-sniffing dog and led to evacuations at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Tuesday did not contain anything suspicious, according to officials. Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesperson Pat Hogan, said around 2 p.m., the dog indicated the possible presence of explosive material in a bag coming off baggage carousel number 12. Hogan said the bag was never on a plane. It was a placeholder used by airlines to signal to passengers and employees that all bags have been unloaded from a flight. Before the bag was deemed safe, officials cleared people from portions of the baggage claim area and the upper and lower roadways used to drop-off and pick-up passengers. They also closed the east end of the ticketing level of the Lindbergh Terminal and several security checkpoints. A news crew estimated that there were about 600 people in line waiting to get through the remaining checkpoints around 3 p.m.Passengers who were dropped off were kept in an area attached to the parking garage and not allowed to enter the ticketing area. By 3:20 p.m. officials determined that there were no explosives in the bag and reopened the evacuated areas. Airport officials said some passengers did miss their flights, but in most cases the pilots delayed take-off to allow for passengers delayed by the partial evacuations. By 5 p.m. operations were back to normal. Officials don't know what caused the dog to react. Bomb-sniffing dogs can sometimes be thrown off by chocolate, cheese or fertilizer. Five K9 units patrol Minneapolis-St. Paul International daily. The dog was on routine patrol when he reacted to the bag. The Bloomington Police Bomb Squad assisted airport police.