Beds, Herts & Bucks

Luton Airport suspect package destroyed in controlled explosion

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Media captionLuton passenger Jim Hearson: "Everyone seems calm"

A controlled explosion has been carried out at London Luton Airport after a "suspect package" was found.

The airport said people were sent out of the terminal after the discovery in the "security search area" at about 14:00 BST.

Bedfordshire Police said the explosion took place at 17:15. The airport reopened shortly afterwards.

Officers said the item was destroyed and "although deemed suspicious, did not present a wider danger".

All flights were suspended and the approach road to the airport was closed.

The police said no-one had been arrested.

EasyJet, which had diverted six flights to Stansted, Birmingham and Southend, said it had cancelled the rest of its flights to and from Luton for the day.

The airline said it had cancelled 41 flights as a result of the disruption.

Image copyright SOUTH BEDS NEWS AGENCY
Image caption Passengers sat on the grass while they awaited news of their flights
Image copyright SOUTH BEDS NEWS AGENCY
Image caption Bedfordshire Police examined the suspect package before it was destroyed
Image copyright @jimhearson
Image caption Passengers initially gathered outside the terminal

The airport had said: "We understand passengers will be frustrated by the delays they are experiencing.

"We are working closely with the police to ensure passengers are not inconvenienced unnecessarily but we must ensure that the safety and security of all our passengers and staff remains our top priority."

One user of Twitter, James Blake, said there was initially "chaos" at the airport following the announcement that it was being evacuated.

Paul Green posted: "One automated alarm telling us to stay where we are. Another telling us to leave."

Image copyright SOUTH BEDS NEWS AGENCY
Image caption Some passengers were waiting on a plane
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Image caption A controlled explosion was carried out at about 17:15
Image copyright @gavindjharper
Image caption A bomb disposal vehicle was photographed arriving at the airport

But soon after, Jim Hearson said everyone was calm and the staff were "coping well".

He said food and drink were being given out to the passengers while they waited for further information.

Declan Clifford, 22, was due to fly to Turkey at 15:05 but was evacuated on to the taxiway.

"We're now sitting outside waiting," he said. "We are being told nothing, we are being kept in the dark.

"They've brought us water and have also brought some of the buses over so we can sit in them."

Image copyright SOUTH BEDS NEWS AGENCY
Image caption People were given food and drink while they waited for updates
Image copyright SOUTH BEDS NEWS AGENCY
Image caption All inbound flights were suspended following the discovery of the package

Natalie Pinder, from Stevenage, was turned away from the airport.

"We have four children and are due to fly out at 18:20 to Ibiza," she said.

"I'm not happy as I can't even get through to EasyJet. We're back at home waiting for news."

The airport is about 30 miles (40km) from central London.

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