Forgotten backpack locks down Pittsburgh airport

| Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011

A book on the history of the atomic bomb set off a chain reaction that put the Pittsburgh International Airport on lockdown last night.

A traveler who took a Port Authority bus from the airport to Oakland left his bag on the bus, Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie said.

The bus returned to the airport with the bag in it, and someone who looked inside saw the book, Ritchie said.

"All they saw was a book that had something to do with bombs," Ritchie said. "You really can't mess around with that kind of thing. You have to let the authorities step in and take a look. That's when you trigger the sequence of safety measures that are in place now."

Port Authority police, Allegheny County police, the county bomb squad and the FBI all responded. Both security checkpoints and the train were shut down for about an hour as a precaution, airport spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny said.

The incident began about 10:30 p.m. and was cleared by midnight, she said. There weren't any outbound passengers at the time, but inbound passengers had to be bused to the landslide terminal.

Meanwhile, the traveler realized he left his bag and flagged down another bus in Oakland and eventually spoke with authorities, Ritchie said.

"Ultimately, it turned out to be a tired traveler who inadvertently left his bag there," Ritchie said. "There was nothing malicious about it."

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