An entire stadium of 75,000 is evacuated when a fake smartphone bomb is found


It’s always difficult when you’re busy, but one of the most important aspects of training security teams on how to recognize suspicious packages that may turn out to be bombs, is remembering to pick up all the ones you you’ve been using during any training exercise.

What was described as a smartphone attached to a pipe, and as an “incredibly lifelike explosive device,” was found in the toilets at the Old Trafford football ground in Manchester, U.K., over the weekend. It forced the evacuation of all the fans gathered for a match between Manchester United and Bournemouth just 20 minutes before it was scheduled to begin. The stadium can hold at least 75,000 people, but many had not taken their seats at the time of the evacuation.

Related: UW’s new long range bomb-sniffing system can fit onto a drone

The game was eventually cancelled, the bomb disposal experts called in, and the device was blow up in a controlled explosion. However, a tweet from the Greater Manchester Police revealed that all wasn’t as it first seemed, and that after a complete examination, it was discovered the device, “wasn’t viable.”

Exactly what this meant was explained in a statement from the assistant chief constable, who said, “We have since found out that the item was a training device which had accidentally been left by a private company following a training exercise involving explosive search dogs.”

No-one was injured, there was calm at the stadium, and for the most part reports say fans were accepting of the cancelled game. However, Manchester’s police commissioner wasn’t impressed at the unnamed security company’s less-than-effective clean-up job. “This fiasco caused massive inconvenience to supporters who had come from far and wide to watch the match, wasted the time of police officers and the army’s bomb squad, and unnecessarily put people in danger.” He has promised an inquiry to find those responsible.

And that’s why you must always remember to collect your fake bomb training devices after an exercise.

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