Man released on bail after airport's chemical alert

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The Independent Online

A man arrested on suspicion of endangering an aircraft following an airport chemical alert was released on bail today.

Baggage handlers at Manchester Airport raised the alarm when they noticed a strange smell as they loaded a piece of luggage on to a plane.

Two bottles of a chemical were found to have leaked from the bag as firefighters and police were called to Terminal Two at about 9.30am yesterday.

Tests carried out on the substance, which was not explosive, confirmed it was ethylamine, a colourless gas.

A Greater Manchester Police (GMP) spokeswoman said: "A man was arrested on suspicion of endangering an aircraft and has been bailed until Monday, January 5.

"Following the arrest officers searched a house on Bellot Street in Cheetham Hill, where a bottle similar to the chemical recovered from the plane was found. This was stored safely and GMP was satisfied it posed no risk to the public."

The matter was not being treated as terrorism-related, police sources said.

The two airport workers who handled the bag were taken to hospital as a precautionary measure and later discharged.

It is understood the man arrested was employed in the chemical industry and had not informed airport officials that he was carrying the substance in his luggage.

The KLM flight to Amsterdam was eventually cleared for take-off and departed after an 80-minute delay.

A Manchester Airport spokesman said: "Although the substance involved in yesterday's incident was not prohibited, the passenger should have declared it at check-in and ensured that it was robustly sealed.

"After detecting an unusual smell from the suitcase, baggage handlers alerted the fire service who carried out a full inspection before it was loaded onto the aircraft.

"This incident highlights the role that everyone, including passengers, play in safety and security when travelling by air.

"Police are now investigating this matter, although there is no suggestion that this incident is terrorism-related."