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Parcel shuts down airport

Sara Wilson
Northern News Services
Published Friday, July 27, 2012

An abandoned parcel wrapped in Christmas paper put the RCMP on alert and led to the closure of the Yellowknife Airport for 45 minutes yesterday as some 60 passengers and staff waited outside.

NNSL photo/graphic

RCMP evacuated 60 passengers and staff from the Yellowknife Airport Thursday morning after a suspicious parcel was discovered wrapped in Christmas paper and left unattended. - Sara Wilson/NNSL photo

The parcel was determined to be suspicious and the threat was called into police by airport officials at 9:50 a.m. on Thursday. After an investigation by RCMP, which involved 20 officers, it was determined that the parcel contained a steam cleaner.

Three RCMP cruisers blocked off access to the airport and officers directed traffic away during the incident.

"Anyone who travels knows the safety procedures," said Sgt. Brad Kaeding of the Yellowknife RCMP. "Since the parcel was wrapped in Christmas wrapping and left at the front doors, we considered it to be suspicious and erred on the side of caution."

The parcel arrived on a Canadian North flight from Edmonton earlier Thursday morning. Passengers about to board a Canadian North flight and airport staff were evacuated to the airport's emergency area to the right of the departures entrance after the parcel's discovery.

"It turned out to be an actual Christmas present," Kaeding said. "The owner must have left it by accident."

Yellowknife RCMP were in full force and "everyone that was available" was called in to help, Kaeding said.

No robotic assistance was needed, and police "used good old fashioned investigation" methods to reveal the parcel's contents, according to Kaeding.

No planes were delayed because of the scare and no passengers or crew were injured during the evacuation.

"This reinforced that no one should leave packages unattended. We take it very seriously," said Earl Blacklock, manager of public affairs and communications for the Department of Transportation.

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