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NEWS DISPATCHES > More Bomb Scares Keep Air Travelers Jittery

18 Aug 2006

Barely over a week after the British foiled an attempt by terrorists to blow many US bound aircrafts originating from the UK, more suspicious incidents keep surfacing.

The latest incident Thursday involved a woman that boarded a plane with two bottles of suspicious liquid. The BBC reported that a West Virginia airport was evacuated when preliminary tests on the containers indicated that it was positive for explosives. The procedure involved swab test and sniffing by police dogs. The woman, an American of Pakistani origin was traveling to Charlotte, North Carolina. Further tests showed that the liquids were not explosive materials. The woman was neither charged nor arrested though she was still being questioned late into the night on Thursday.


At the other end of the world on Thursday, a Boeing 737 airliner arriving Sydney (Australia) from Fiji was shoved away from the main airport terminal and the passengers evacuated. Police ‘bomb’ dogs were used to search the plane that a Sidney Airport official said “has had a threat against it”. Apparently no suspicious items were found in the plane after the police search.


Earlier on Wednesday, a terminal at Seattle in Washington State in the U.S. was evacuated because bomb-sniffing dogs apparently smelt explosives in two containers.


Also on Wednesday, there was also this high profile diversion of a London-to-Washington flight to Boston following alleged threats emanating from a 59-year-old lady. The agitated woman was physically restrained in the plane and when the aircraft landed, all passengers were evacuated, interviewed and their luggage spread out on the tarmac to be rechecked.


Following the foiled threat in the UK, British authorities introduced new regulations for air travelers. Hand baggage was banned except for very essential things like baby formula and medicines that must be carried in transparent plastic bags. Also allowed were female hygienic materials and small purses containing items like credit cards.


It is only when you are airborne in plane, do you really appreciate how vulnerable the aircraft can be. Aviation and law enforcement authorities do genuinely have reason to act the way they do when confronted with a possible threat. Though some of the reaction borders on paranoia and causes inconveniences to travelers, there seems to be no other choice when you consider that there are many people out there that are determined to kill thousands of innocent people.


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Njei Moses Timah