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Thu, Apr 19, 2007

Auckland Airport ID's Possible Explosive Device

Device Eventually Determined To Be Harmless

An X-ray machine identified a possible explosive device in a package being shipped through the New Zealand Post international mail center at Auckland Airport Tuesday.

When the package was first picked up as suspicious, screener staff put it in an explosives safe overnight rather than contact emergency services immediately, according to The New Zealand Herald.

Once notified the following morning, emergency personnel promptly evacuated the mail center.

Fire Service spokesman Doug Cooke said, "They placed this package into the explosives safe and called us this morning. We sent out all the cavalry," he said. The police and the defense force bomb disposal unit responded to deal with the package.

The package was eventually identified as a... well, we'll call it a "marital aid."

Customs northern ports manager Simon Williamson said departmental procedures were not properly followed... which resulted in a decidedly awkward situation for everyone involved.

"There were inquiries that were being made at that point in time, hence the reason why I understand it was put in the safe," he told Radio New Zealand. "Needless to say we accept that the operating procedures that are there for good reason weren't followed in this case and we're making sure that that doesn't repeat itself in the future."

Police Inspector Matt Sillars said, "The issue was compounded by incorrect assumptions and speculation that the package contained an explosive device," he said. "The package was routinely checked like any other package from overseas and when the contents were unable to be verified, routine precautionary procedures were put in place until the contents of the package were identified."

"Customs officers were trained to be vigilant about suspicious packages," Williams said. "This thing had come across the world from China by air and had arrived at the international mail center to be sorted for onward distribution to New Zealand."

No word yet on the final disposition of the suspicious object.

FMI: www.auckland-airport.co.nz

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