"in transit" with a suspicious package:
17.03.2010 - 17.03.2010 35 °C
So Sophie and I are currently waiting at Colombo airport for our connecting flight to Tokyo. We have been up for over 30 hours now so pretty knackered which meant the following incident seemed even more surreal. It appears, in this climate of international terrorism, that the Sri Lankan airport security staff have a rather relaxed approach to potential security threats:
Having just arrived in the airport with a long wait ahead of us for the next flight, I noticed two suspicious looking oblong packages carefully wrapped in newspaper and left unidentified and unattended on some seats near us in the 'transit' lounge. When Sophie returned from the loo I pointed them out and we convinced ourselves they either contained several pounds of cocaine or a sizeable bomb (neither of which we fancied waiting next to). As there was a sign nearby reminding passengers of the death penalty for drug smuggling, so we reasoned someone trying their luck had seen this sign, thought better off it and quietly offloaded the packages so this was the more likely option.
We thought we had better report it to someone so they could deal with it appropriately so Sophie went off to do her duty as a responsible citizen. If you bear in mind something like this at Heathrow would probably have warranted immediate cordoning off of the area, evacuation of at least one terminal and the summoning of sniffer dogs and bomb disposal experts from miles around until the package was either identified as harmless or defused... Well a passing security guard came over and had a look, shrugged his shouders and went off to 'get security'. In the time that elapsed before they returned I went to the loo and missed a tour guide, leading a large group of asian-attired, middle-aged women, coming over to pick up the packages, feel the weight of and stack them neatly back on the seat, before leading the gaggle onward. On my return a cleaner had wandered over to the packages, given them a poke and a shake and by the time two more security men swaggered calmly over with the original man in tow, was unwrapping and ripping the layers to reveal..... nothing but sheets of newspaper wrapped in a parcel shape. The security men shrugged and wandered off again, the cleaner disposed of the newspaper and Sophie and I were left rather bemused at their serious lack of 'suspicious package' procedures.
Naomi and Matt have now arrived from India so the four of us are going to try and get some sleep before getting on the next 8 hour flight in 3 hours time.