“Doomsday” letter promoted airport alert

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  • <B>Fire and police officers</B> examining a sealed bag after firefighters wearing protective clothing entered the airport police station to remove a package thought to contain a suspicious substance on January 3.

    Fire and police officers examining a sealed bag after firefighters wearing protective clothing entered the airport police station to remove a package thought to contain a suspicious substance on January 3.
    (Photo by David Skinner)


A suspicious package that sent emergency services racing to the airport last Thursday referred to the Mayan prophecy that doomsday was coming, police revealed yesterday.

However, the letter — which saw an airport worker hospitalised after handling it — was delivered 13 days after the predicted apocalypse was supposed to happen.

A police spokesman explained yesterday: “On Thursday January 3, following a call to the L.F. Wade International Airport, emergency services attended to a report of a suspicious envelope that had been delivered by regular mail. Initial reports had suggested that the envelope contained a letter threatening Bermuda and the Bermuda Government, as well as a powdery substance. The envelope was forensically examined and no traces of any toxic or other substances were found. The letter was penned by an anonymous person based in Hong Kong.

“The contents of the letter referred to the doomsday scenario that was anticipated following the December 21 2012 Mayan calendar ‘end of days.’ It contained no references to Bermuda or the Bermuda Government and made no threats directed towards anyone in Bermuda.”

It was not clear from the police press release why the initial call to the police suggested there was powder in the package and a threat to Bermuda.

The spokesman added: “No injuries were caused to any staff at the airport and although one staff member was taken to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital out of an abundance of caution, she was released shortly thereafter. There was at no time any danger to the travelling public or other airport staff, and airport operations were not disrupted. Incoming and outgoing flights were not affected and cordons were placed around the airport police station only as a matter of procedure.

“An investigation was commenced by the Bermuda Police Service and enquiries are being made with law enforcement agencies overseas.”

It was reported at the time that a female airport worker was taken to hospital and six people “quarantined” as a precaution after the envelope was found.

Part of the airport parking lot was cordoned off by police, with arriving passengers being greeted by the sight of flashing blue lights as they disembarked from the British Airways flight that arrived shortly after the alert.

The Doomsday prophecy stemmed from a calendar used by the ancient Mayan civilisation in Central America. The calendar lasted for more than 5,000 years but came to an end on December 21 2012, which prompted fears it forecast the end of the world.

In China — which includes the special administrative region of Hong Kong where the letter was posted — police arrested almost 1,000 members of a Christian group which predicted that December 21 would usher in three days of darkness.

According to BBC news, police in Beijing posted an online notice to calm anxieties, telling people that "the so-called end of the world is a rumour".

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Published Jan 9, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 8, 2013 at 10:33 pm)

“Doomsday” letter promoted airport alert

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