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US Coast Guard Warns of Dirty Bomb, Clears Threat Hours Later


FILE - A container ship makes its way into the Port of Charleston in Charleston, S.C., May 20, 2014.

Authorities evacuated a terminal at the Port of Charleston in South Carolina to investigate a “potential threat” in a container ship, the U.S. Coast Guard said. The all-clear was sounded a few hours later after four containers were cleared by authorities.

Maersk Line, the world’s biggest container shipping company, said in a statement Thursday the U.S. Coast Guard had informed it of a threat of a “dirty bomb” aboard one of its vessels, the Memphis. It said all crew members were safe and ashore.

Coast Guard officials described the threat as a possible dirty bomb on the Maersk Memphis ship docked in the Wando Terminal, where hazardous materials crews and rescue workers were seen working, an NBC affiliate in South Carolina reported.

The Coast Guard said the threat was “active and ongoing,” via Twitter at 2 a.m., but an hour later tweeted that four containers had been scanned and cleared and that the Unified Command determined there was no threat to the port.

The U.S. Coast Guard said authorities were made aware of the potential threat in a container aboard the vessel about 8 p.m. Wednesday (midnight GMT) and the terminal had been evacuated. The source of the threat in the port has been detained, the Coast Guard said via Twitter.

The Maersk Memphis, a 300-meter vessel, was in New York before arriving in South Carolina about 7:30 p.m, according to Reuters data.