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British Home Secretary: Explosive Substance Intercepted on Cargo Plane in Britain


The UPS building at the East Midlands airport, Derby, England, 29 Oct 2010, after UPS cargo containers were searched by British police at the East Midlands airport, in Derby, about two hours north of London

The UPS building at the East Midlands airport, Derby, England, 29 Oct 2010, after UPS cargo containers were searched by British police at the East Midlands airport, in Derby, about two hours north of London

British authorities are seeking answers after a suspicious package was found and removed from a cargo plane at East Midlands airport on Friday.

It appears that a tip-off from Saudi intelligence sources was behind the police search of a UPS cargo plane early on Friday in Britain that led to the discovery of an explosive package.

Collaborative efforts by authorities on a number of continents were involved. Here, Britain's top law and order official, Home Secretary Theresa May, spoke of the discussions with Washington.

"We have been working closely with our U.S. counterparts following the discovery of a suspect package on a plane bound for Chicago which had landed in transit at East Midlands airport. I have spoken to my U.S. counterpart directly, that is Janet Napolitano," said May.

After some initial forensic uncertainty, a British preliminary investigation has determined that an object in a package, a printer toner cartridge, contained a white powder, an explosive industrial substance known as PETN.

Secretary May says the package originated in Yemen and she says experts now believe it could have gone off onboard the aircraft.

"The device was viable and could have exploded. The target may have been an aircraft and had it detonated the aircraft could have been brought down," she said.

But the threat level in Britain is not being raised. It remains at the second highest position, that being "severe."

Also in light of the incident, May says all unaccompanied air freight originating from Yemen coming into Britain will now be stopped.

Direct cargo and passenger flights from Yemen to Britain were suspended in January.

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