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Wednesday, 5 December, 2001, 23:05 GMT
Hoax bomb alert at Belfast airport
Passengers waited inside the building during alert
Passengers waited inside the building during alert
Major disruption to the travel plans of hundreds of people has been caused at Belfast International Airport by a hoax bomb alert.

At about 1700 GMT on Wednesday, callers to a newsroom and to the airport, north of Belfast in County Antrim, said several bombs had been left in the car park in front of the terminal building.

Army bomb experts carried out an extensive search but no bombs were found.

Hundreds of passengers who arrived at the terminal on flights were kept inside the building in the arrivals lounge during the three-hour alert.

Passengers arriving at the terminal were diverted to another entrance so they could catch their departing flights.

However, there was considerable traffic disruption in the Templepatrick area after the airport was cordoned off.

Some passengers abandoned their cars to try to get to the airport to catch flights on foot.

Dissident threat

The police had said they were treating the bomb warnings very seriously.

It followed a number of recent incidents for which dissident republicans were blamed.

There was a hoax alert at the airport on Friday night.

In August, dissident republicans were blamed for leaving a bomb in the car park of the airport.

Controlled explosions were carried out by the Army on a car which contained 20kg of home-made explosives which had been left in the long-stay car park close to the airport terminal.

Rail device found

The device was found after telephone warnings.

On Tuesday the Army defused a bomb containing 35kg of home-made explosives found under a railway line at the Irish border, for which the Real IRA dissident republican group is believed to have been responsible.

The device was discovered at Killeen Bridge near Newry in County Down, following a six day security alert in the area after a telephone bomb warning.

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen White, who was in charge of the operation, said the threat from the Real IRA should not be underestimated.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Marie Louise Connolly reports:
"The hoaxers achieved what they set out to do in disrupting traffic at the airport"
See also:

02 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Dissidents blamed for airport bomb
05 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
Bomb found under rail line
04 Mar 01 | Northern Ireland
Dissident republicans: Terror threat
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