Scientist detained after bomb scare closes Miami airport

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Friday, September 3, 2010

An aerial view of Miami International Airport, which was evacuated after airport security officials noticed that a bag contained a metal canister that looked like a pipe bomb.

A 70-year-old American scientist has been released from FBI custody following the evacuation of Miami International Airport because of a bomb scare. The airport was evacuated, a government official said, after airport security officials noticed, at around 9:00pm local time on Thursday, that his bag contained a metal canister that looked like a pipe bomb. The scientist was released on Friday afternoon, and no charges were brought against him. Further, he was permitted to continue his trip, and the FBI said he was "very cooperative" while he was in custody. The metal canister is reportedly being examined in a laboratory. Early on Friday morning, an FBI spokesperson said they were not sure "if a crime has been committed".

Passengers were evacuated from four of the airport's six terminals and a nearby hotel, and roadways surrounding the airport were closed to civilian vehicles, as, police and airport officials said, a public safety precaution. Bomb experts searched the airport for signs of a threat, but reportedly found none. The Associated Press reported that "Miami-Dade Police said a bomb squad spent hours at the airport with fire officials and the others. Fire trucks and police vehicles stood by and a hazardous material team was spotted at the scene." The Transportation Security Administration refused to identify the man, but confirmed that an x-ray screener had spotted a suspicious item in a bag. "The statement also did not say what the suspicious item was but said a police bomb squad and other law enforcement agents deployed to the airport soon after," according to USA Today.

"I'm still not sure how many flights came in during [the] time [in which no-one was permitted inside], but any that did were relocated to the eastern or western ends of the airport [which were not evacuated]", an airport spokesperson said. The airport fully reopened just after 4 a.m. on Friday morning, just before the first morning departures on the day before Labor Day weekend, which sees a rush of travelers going through Miami International every year. An airport spokesperson told a news agency that "everything's back to normal," but the police urged those planning to travel to or from Miami International to check with their airline before arriving at the airport.