PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The Portland International Jetport’s passenger terminal was evacuated and the airport shut down for 3½ hours on Thursday after security screeners spotted a suspicious object in a carry-on bag.
The Portland Police Department bomb squad used a robot to remove the bag containing the suspicious device from an x-ray machine. The bag was then placed in a bombproof container, which was taken to the far end of the airfield for further evaluation, said Paul Bradbury, airport manager.
After screening came to an abrupt stop at 10:39 a.m., passengers were ordered to leave the secure area and go downstairs to the far end of the first floor of the terminal. Screening by the Transportation Security Administration resumed at 2:18 p.m., said Ann Davis, a TSA spokeswoman in Boston.
A woman identified as Barbara Kinney told WCSH-TV in Portland that she was waiting in the security screening line when officials halted operations. She said she could see a man being questioned by TSA officers before being led off to another room.
“To my knowledge the passenger isn’t considered a threat, but he could not through the interview resolve what was showing up on the screen,” Bradbury said.
There was no immediate word on the identification of the suspicious item. The bomb squad was still dealing with the item in the afternoon, he said.
The Portland airport gained notoriety after the Sept. 11 attacks when it was learned that ringleader Mohamed Atta started his day there. He flew to Boston, where he boarded an American Airlines jetliner that he flew into the World Trade Center.