A suspected bomb found in Britain on board a cargo plane headed to the United States, sent authorities investigating other cargo flights for “potentially suspicious items” in New York, Philadelphia and other cities.
The plane, a United Parcel Service flight that stopped in Britain while travelling to Chicago from Yemen, was carrying an ink toner cartridge converted into a bomb, CNN reported.
An FBI source told Reuters that initial tests in Britain revealed no explosives.
A White House source also reported a second suspicious package was discovered in a cargo plane in Dubai. The package was believed to be similar to the one discovered in the UK.
British police said the plane carrying the suspicious package was being checked at a distribution centre at East Midlands Airport, 260km north of London.
The United States has stepped up its training, intelligence and military aid to Yemen after a failed plot to blow up a US passenger plane on Christmas Day 2009, for which the Yemeni wing of al Qa’eda claimed responsibility.
UPS said two of its other planes were being checked in Philadelphia, as well as another that landed in Newark, New Jersey. Local media reported cargo planes also had been stopped for investigation in Portland, Maine, and at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
“Out of an abundance of caution the planes were moved to a remote location where they are being met by law enforcement officials and swept,” the US Transportation Security Administration said.
A UPS spokeswoman said she did not know where the flights had originated. CNN said the UPS plane in Newark had arrived from East Midlands and said flights to the United States from Yemen were being investigated as a precaution. UPS could not confirm reports of investigations in Maine or at JFK airport in New York.
Also, a UPS truck in New York City was checked for a suspicious package then cleared, police said.
New York police spokesman Paul Browne declined to comment on whether there were links with the investigations at Philadelphia and Newark airports.