Investigators have concluded that a suspect package discovered at the UK's East Midlands Airport contained an explosive device which could have detonated on board an aircraft.

Restrictions are being put in place on air freight originating in Yemen, the source the package which was found during a search of a cargo flight yesterday - part of a broader alert which also involved aircraft being searched at US airports.

UK home secretary Theresa May, who chaired a meeting of the Government's Cabinet Office Briefing Room emergency response committee today, says that a preliminary examination of the device shows that it was "viable and could have exploded".

"The target of the device may have been an aircraft and, had it detonated, the aircraft could have been brought down," she says.

"But we do not believe that the perpetrators of the attack would have known the location of the device when they planned for it to explode."


Dubai police have reportedly intercepted another suspect package, said to contain the explosive PETN during a sweep of a US-bound freight flight.

May says UK authorities are in contact with the US Department for Homeland Security over the situation.

"Now we must take further precautionary measures. I have agreed with the transport secretary to take immediate action to stop the movement of all unaccompanied air freight originating in Yemen and moving into or through the UK," says May.

"We are in contact with the transport sector about this. Direct cargo and passenger flights from Yemen were suspended for security reasons in January this year, following the earlier attempt to bomb an aircraft destined for Detroit.

"The police and the security and intelligence agencies are working tirelessly to increase our understanding of the case."

May says the investigation "remains sensitive" but adds: "At this stage we have no information to indicate another attack is imminent."

Police at East Midlands Airport state that the US-registered aircraft searched had been en route from Yemen to Chicago via Philadelphia.

Discovery of the explosives comes in the same week that airlines have voiced concerns that certain airport security arrangements are unnecessary and inconvenient.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news