Suspicious bag found in cargo hold of plane at IAH

May 4, 2010 5:19:54 PM PDT
There was a scare Tuesday at Bush International Airport after smoke emitted from a suitcase offloaded from an international flight. Law enforcement officers detonated the suspicious suitcase before technicians combed through its contents. A baggage handler said it had made a popping noise before emitting some kind of smoke or mist, prompting a call that brought in the Houston Fire Department, the police department and the ATF.

"I saw a lot of police, the helicopters above, and I was just trying to figure out what was going on," said Christy Azadi, who was picking up a passenger.

An airport systems spokeswoman tried to downplay it, calling it a non-event, even though all of the luggage that had been on the KLM flight was x-rayed and a police dog taken through the plane.

One Katy man who had been on the plane from Amsterdam says all of the passengers were held in customs long after they had deplaned.

"We were here for about an hour and a half, since 2:00 or 1:45," said passenger Mo Jeloudar.

The fire department now says the problem with the suitcase was likely an aerosol can, but passengers say they were kept in the dark.

"No one explained to us what was the problem, and we asked, I asked what's the reason y'all are holding us, and they said we found something suspicious," said Jeloudar.

HPD said it was an "accidental event that was not criminal in nature." They also said that at no time were any passengers or crew in danger.

Houston police said it was probably an outside heat source that heated up the bag from outside. They said they did a sweep of the cargo area and did not find evidence of an explosive nor any type of incendiary device. Police went on to say there was a hole in the side of the suspicious piece of luggage.

Part of the reason for the response, police say, is that we are at orange on the threat level system, which means imminent terrorist attack, so anything suspicious is treated with extra caution.

Passengers on the KLM flight were held in customs for about an hour and a half after deplaning while the investigation was going on. No injuries were reported.


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