Not the best PR from Electronic Cigarette perspective, but it should certainly raise awareness!
Police report ‘health improvement aid for smokers’ in Megabus passenger’s bag caused toll road closure in West Midlands.
The evacuation of a coach on the M6 toll road which caused long tailbacks on one of the country’s busiest roads was a terror scare caused by the smoke vapour from an electronic cigarette, police have revealed.
Staffordshire police led an operation to evacuate almost 50 people from a Megabus coach heading south on the M6 toll road in the West Midlands on Thursday morning. There were reports that a passenger on board was seen pouring liquid into a bag which created smoke or fumes, causing others onboard to alert the driver. But the smoke came from an electronic cigarette, it was later revealed.
The terror alert, which saw armed policemen and dozens of emergency service vehicles deployed to the motorway near Litchfield, was caused by a “health improvement aid for smokers”, police said.
Armed officers responded to a “genuine security alert” from a concerned member of the public on board the coach travelling from Preston to London, according to Staffordshire police.
“The information received concerned a report of vapour escaping from a bag which on investigation turned out to be a health improvement aid for smokers,” a force spokeswoman said.
The motorway ws closed in both directions between junctions three and four at Weeford Park Plaza, near Lichfield, for several hours after receiving the alert at 8.20am. The closure caused long tailbacks during the rush hour, which were exacerbated by an accident on the same motorway near junction 13.
Police evacuated 48 people from the bus, which was travelling from Preston to London. The passengers were then led some distance away to the toll plaza of the road.
Aerial footage from the scene revealed that the passengers – including women and children – were sitting within a square enclosure at regular distances from each other surrounded by uniformed officers. Several other cordoned-off areas could be seen, with bright yellow tents erected on the other side of the toll plaza.
At least eight fire engines and six police vehicles were at the scene, with sniffer dogs examining the abandoned coach.
Before information about the electronic cigarette emerged a spokeswoman said police had received a call at around 8.20am form a member of the public “genuinely concerned member of the public about suspicious activity on a coach travelling on the M6 toll at Weeford, near Lichfield. Staffordshire police co-ordinated a multi-agency response.
“Given the nature of the report we responded swiftly and proportionately, treating the information as credible and extremely seriously. Our utmost priority was the safety and security of those people on the coach and those travelling on the motorway.
“The M6 toll carriageways were closed in both directions, the coach was directed to the hard shoulder of the motorway and armed officers calmly evacuated passengers with their full support and co-operation.
“Importantly, we are not treating this as a counter-terrorism incident.”
Witnesses told the BBC that cars were stopped on the M6 toll road and left without information from the police for around 90 minutes. When they began getting out of their cars a police officer informed them to get back in their vehicles, keep the windows closed and the air conditioning off. The cars were then led away from the scene.
. The fire service, officers from West Midlands and Staffordshire police and ambulance crews went to the scene to help the people off the coach.
A spokeswoman for Megabus, which is operated by Stagecoach, said all the passengers were safe and well.