Page last updated at 18:25 GMT, Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Explosives alert closes US port


A major US port in the state of North Carolina has been closed after containers carrying explosive material were found punctured in Morehead City.

People have been told to leave the area. The chemical involved, known as PETN, is a powerful explosive.

The mayor said a forklift operator had accidentally punctured at least one container. No injuries are reported.

The Morehead port - one of the deepest on the US East coast - is a major entry point for commodities.

A police spokesman told Reuters news agency: "As a precaution, they have evacuated the port area... everything indicates this was by accident."

PETN, or pentaerythritol tetranitrate, is used both in military ammunition and for industrial explosions.

It was also the substance allegedly used by a Nigerian man accused of trying to destroy an airliner about to land in Detroit on Christmas Day.

Reports say there is no sense of panic in Morehead City.

Resident Drew Hall told the Associated Press news agency by phone: "Everybody is going about their business. Why get nervous? Things happen. You can't freak out in times like this."

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