With the London Olympics fast approaching, UK security forces are understandably on high alert. Indeed, an incident on one of the country’s main highways on Thursday showed that they’re – how can we say – taking no chances?
After receiving an emergency call describing vapor coming from the luggage of a man traveling on a cross-country passenger bus, a reported 25 police cars, 13 fire engines, 4 ambulances and 2 army bomb disposal teams were sent to intercept the London-bound vehicle. And the cause of the drama? An electronic cigarette.
According to the Mirror, it appears the man had been concealing his nicotine-free e-cigarette inside his bag in between puffs. Upon seeing smoke-like vapor coming from the bag – though unaware it was coming from an e-cigarette – a worried passenger informed the driver, who in turn called the emergency services.
One eyewitness said the scene “was like something out of a movie,” with anti-terror operatives in military gear surrounding the bus. Forensic experts and sniffer dogs were also called in.
One passenger told the Mirror, “Parents cuddled their kids while others cried. Some thought the coach was going to blow up,” adding, “All the driver ever told us was, ‘There is a situation’.”
Anti-terror cops ordered terrified passengers off the bus at gunpoint, concerned that the man’s bag could contain a malfunctioning bomb or that it was the beginning of a chemical attack. Fortunately it was neither.
Police later confirmed that the incident had been caused by nothing more than an e-cigarette. The massive operation is said to have cost somewhere in the region of £6 million ($9.3 million).
Although the response to the incident has been regarded by some as an over-reaction, it at least serves to reassure visitors to this month’s Games that the anti-terror team is alert and ready to respond to suspicious incidents – although hopefully that’ll be the last one involving a fake cigarette.
It’s not the first time an e-cigarettes has hit the headlines. Earlier this year a Florida man said his exploded, an incident made all the more frightening by the fact that it was in his mouth at the time. It’s believed a faulty battery caused the explosion.