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Suspicious luggage at two US airports delays flights

world Updated: Jan 06, 2010 12:52 IST

Seemingly suspicious pieces of luggage delayed flights at two airports, prompting evacuations in Minneapolis and closing a California airport where authorities discovered what turned out to be soft drink bottles filled with honey.

A passenger's suitcase tested positive for TNT at Bakersfield's Meadows Field during a routine swabbing of the bag's exterior yesterday, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said. When Transportation Security Administration officials opened the bag, they found bottles filled with an amber liquid, he said.

The bag's owner, Francisco Ramirez, told TSA officers that the bottles were filled with honey, Youngblood said. Further testing confirmed that honey was the only substance present in the bottles, said FBI spokesman Steve Dupre. No traces of explosives were found.

"Why in this day and age would someone take a chance carrying honey in Gatorade bottles?" Youngblood said. "That itself is an alarm. It's hard to understand."

At the Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport, a bomb-sniffing dog indicated there was something suspicious about a piece of luggage, causing authorities to call a bomb squad and clear parts of the airport for more than an hour.

But the bag was never put on a flight and nothing suspicious was found, officials said.

The piece of luggage was only a placeholder airline employees put on the luggage carousel to signal to other employees that all the bags have been unloaded from a flight, airport spokesman Patrick Hogan said. In airport jargon, it's called a "last bag".