Two inmates, airport evacuated after suspicious package found near Toronto ferry

TORONTO — Flights have resumed at Toronto’s Downtown Island Airport after a possible explosive device was found near the mainland ferry terminal on Saturday, prompting an evacuation and a halt to flights.

Toronto police say two people have been arrested and are cooperating with the investigation.

In an update shortly after midnight, police said they carried out a controlled detonation of the device.

Evacuees from buildings near the ferry terminal were allowed to return and the airport announced it had reopened its runway with flights resuming on Sunday morning.

PortsToronto said it called police around 4 p.m. after a device was found on a bicycle parked near the ferry terminal.

The runway at Billy Bishop Airport was closed for several hours and two scheduled Air Canada flights were diverted to Hamilton.

Police said buses had been brought in for evacuees in the area.

“We ended up setting off the fire alarms in all the nearby buildings to get people to leave,” said Const. Laura Brabant said in an emailed statement.

Passengers inside the airport reported seeing six heavily armed police officers in tactical gear entering the terminal and heading to an upper floor, away from the crowds gathered near the exits.

Those stranded inside the airport terminal described a confused but relatively calm scene, where staff offered sparse updates and passengers learned of the situation from news reports. Passengers said staff were shouting information to the large crowd, with those in the back struggling to hear.

Matthew Zadow, a Canadian opera singer based in Belgium, used his baritone to help deliver these updates to his stranded fellow travelers.

“The staff repeatedly said they didn’t know anything. They don’t have any information from anyone,” he said in a phone interview from the airport, about three hours after his flight arrived.

« It’s kind of a phone game where people up front hear something and relay it down the line. »

Krista Hiddema said she was on the first flight to land after the airport closed the tunnel to the mainland and stopped people leaving.

She learned about what was happening outside the airport through a call from her husband, not the staff.

“It’s an extremely painful lack of organization. It is remarkable to me that there is no designated communications person walking around sharing information. »

Hiddema said morale remained high among passengers, who mingled, shared travelogues and complained about snacks and drinks at an airport convenience stand.

Among the other passengers Hiddema said he met in the line was actor Jean Yoon, star of the CBC sitcom « Kim’s Convenience. »

» I had fun. After the three hours (although people) were tired and frustrated (without) a clear plan, apparent disorganization,” Yoon said in a series of tweets, recounting his experience.

Water taxis eventually arrived to transport passengers and their luggage from the airport to the mainland. In an update around 10 p.m., the airport tweeted that all passengers had been transported.

Earlier Saturday, the airport had planned a large-scale emergency preparedness exercise involving police, paramedics and airport staff. Police confirmed that the drill and the investigation into the possible explosive device were unrelated.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on October 22, 2022.


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