As President Obama was minutes away from announcing new security measures for airports and airlines, the baggage area Minneapolis St. Paul Airport was being evacuated this afternoon, apparently because of a suspicious package.
This picture was posted via Twitter by @jamielawler:
The fact the picture shows yellow police tape suggests the entire airport is not closed.
After the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight in Detroit, this is becoming common. Earlier today, an airport in Bakersfield, California was similarly evacuated.
3:02 p – KSTP reports bomb-sniffing dogs alerted authorities to the package.
3:04 p – From @jamielawler: ” Half the airport is sealed off. no one going through security, no bags coming out.”
3:12 p – I’m listening to the MSP tower. It’s relatively quiet other than TV helicopters talking to the tower, which suggests flights are being affected. Some flights are landing, however. Flights appear to be departing.
3:23 pm – MPR’s Tim Nelson reports people are going back through security lines, they’re reopened tickeiting area where hundreds are waiting in line and people are moving into the TSA screening area. There’s a helicopter over the airport, they’ve closed the east skyway connecting the parking ramp with the ticketing lobby.
3:29 p.m. – I’m seeing several Delta flights leaving the gates 10 minutes early. Chatter is picking up on the tower and ground frequencies at the airport. Things appear to be returning to normal.
3:32 p.m. – MPR’s Elizabeth Dunbar reports security check points 1, 2 and 3 were closed, along with a couple of concourses and the north side of the baggage claim area. Carrie Harmon, a spokeswoman for TSA, said the bomb squad were examining the suspicious package.
3:33 p.m. – Here’s Tim Nelson’s update from a few minutes ago on MPR’s All Things Considered. (that’s a somewhat dated piece of audio):
3:39 p.m. – President Obama is beginning his statement.
3:43 p.m. Passenger Susan Inglis of St. Paul describes what happened at the airport to MPR’s Elizabeth Dunbar. (language warning)
3:46 p.m. – Obama: The U.S. government has sufficient information to … thwart the Christmas Day attack but failed to connect the dots. It wasn’t a failure to collect the intelligence, it was a failure to integrate it.
3:49 p.m. – Obama: Will announce further steps to disrupt attacks including better screening. Says the incident will not change the decision to close Guantanamo Day. “There’s an ongoing security situation in Yemen which we have been confronting for some time. We will not transfer additional detainees back to Yemen at this time.”
The president did not take any questions. Here’s his full statement:
4:02 p.m. – A briefing at the airport just ended. It turns out the suspicious bag was the one the baggage handlers send down the belt to notify people that the last bag has been unloaded. MPR coverage will be updated here.
This concludes the live-blogging of these two stories.