Training exercise in Sydney harbour accidentally sparks real bomb scare

Crew called police over a deliberately suspicious package that was to be used in training

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The Independent Online

A bomb scare on a ferry in Sydney was sparked by a badly organised terrorism training exercise, Australian officials have confirmed.

Sydney’s city centre saw widespread disruption yesterday with the Circular Quay transport hub, located amid Sydney’s iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge, shut down for two hours.

The incident was sparked after the crew of a ferry in the harbour found a suspicious package described by local public broadcaster ABC as two bottles containing liquid and nails with protruding wires.

But in a twist revealed by officials on Friday, the device turned out to be a training mock-up of a real bomb which had been brought aboard ferry by a member of staff to train its crew in identifying suspicious packages.

Staff, apparently already adept in identifying suspicious packages, called police upon finding the fake bomb. The had not been told about the training exercise.

The quayside around the vessel was evacuated before police determined true the nature of the package.

Steffen Faurby, chief executive of Harbour City Ferries, which operate the Sydney fleet, said there had been “no intentional hoax” and described the package as "a training device, which was not recognized as a typical training device by staff”.

Nerves are high in Sydney after two hostages and a gunmen died during a siege at a café in the city late last month.