Suspicious package sparked Queen Street bomb alert

By Heather McCracken

Photo / Peter Rhodes
Photo / Peter Rhodes

Defence Force experts are still trying to identify the suspicious package which sparked a bomb alert in central Auckland this afternoon.

Police inspector Willie Taylor said the package had been made safe and was not an explosive device.

But "because of the manner in which we rendered it safe", Mr Taylor said it may take some time to be identified.

Police had not ruled out the possibility that the package was deliberately intended to look like a bomb.

"We don't know that it isn't a mimic device and that it wasn't left there with some intent," Mr Taylor said.

"We are aware of global events and it just puts the hairs up on your neck more than usual."

The package was left at a bus stop at 305 Queen St, outside Q Theatre, near the Town Hall, and was reported by a member of the public at 1pm.

About 20 police and three or four Defence Force personnel were involved in the response, which included closing a section of Queen St between Mayoral Drive and Wakefield St to pedestrians and traffic.

Mr Taylor said the package was deemed suspicious because it could not be identified. "When we looked at it we couldn't clarify what it was or why it had been left there," he said.

A Defence Force robot fired a "water-based charge" at the package, which is designed to cause an explosive device to blow up.

The package did not explode, so was then packed in blast-proof material and taken to a Defence Force facility for further investigation.

Mr Taylor said Queen St was reopened to the public by 3.30pm. The closure had caused some delays for motorists.

Auckand Councillor Cameron Brewer tweeted this afternoon that councillors were unable to leave the Town Hall, which was inside the cordon.

Mr Brewer said a budget planning session with Waitemata local board members was interrupted by a message they were unable to leave because of a bomb scare.

"Some of us found that instruction to stay put counterintuitive and a little bit nerve-wracking."

Mr Brewer said there was some concern, but councillors continued with their work.

"We took some precautionary measures by drawing the curtains around the council chamber to deflect any shattering glass, and we carried on with discussions."

- APNZ

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