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Suspected bomb led to seven-hour closure of Dartford Crossing
A SUSPECTED bomb was the reason behind the seven-hour closure of the Dartford Crossing yesterday (September 6).
Kent Police say suspicions were raised about the behaviour of a man who had been on a coach which just gone through the tolls at 4pm.
The 27-year-old foreign national had got off the bus and ran to an area nearby before security staff at a nearby distribution depot detained him.
He was arrested at 4.15pm on suspicion of making a bomb hoax after allegedly making threats about a "suspicious device"on board the coach.
A bag with a cylindrical device with wires inside was found and officers called in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team.
The people on the coach were interviewed before being allowed to carry on their journey in the early hours of this morning.
The detained man made further threats that there was an explosive device on another coach which officers stopped at 6pm on the A20 at Dover,
The bus was evacuated and the road was closed and those on board were taken to a rest centre whilst the investigation continued.
No threat was found and they were allowed to get back on the coach and drive off. The A20 reopened around 10.45pm.
Assistant Chief Constable Rob Price, of Kent Police, said: ‘We were dealing with a very challenging situation, with two scenes in extremely busy areas. Our main priority was to ensure the safety of the public, our officers and our partners at the scene.
‘We had received threats of a very serious nature that required regional and national co-ordination and declared this as a critical incident.
"Obviously a lot of people were caught up in long delays but this could not be avoided as we had to ensure public safety and as soon as clearance was obtained the road was immediately opened.
"We would like to thank the public for their patience last night, and also thank our partners, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team, South East Coast Ambulance Service, the Highways Agency, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, Kent County Council and others who all worked to ensure the safety of everyone involved."
A van driver has explained how he saw a man "wandering between lines of traffic" at the Dartford Crossing possibly with "a gun," minutes before the crossing was shut yesterday.
Van driver Paul Auty, 39, told the Daily Mail: "This man was wandering around between the lines of traffic waiting to go through the toll booths, and he was waving his arms around and shouting.
"It looked to like he had something in his hand, I thought it was a gun, but I couldn't be sure because he was about 50 metres away from me.
"But he was definitely pointing it like he was holding a gun. A few other people stuck in the traffic with me thought the same as me because we got chatting during the long delay."
Police confirmed yesterday evening the "suspicious package" that held up thousands of motorists at the Dartford Crossing "did not pose a threat."
The announcement came as both the QE2 Bridge and the Dartford Tunnels were re-opened, more than six hours after the were first shut at around 4pm.
A Kent Police spokesman said: "It has been confirmed that the item of interest does not pose a threat.
"Enquiries have concluded on the scene and the Highways Agency and Kent Police are in the process of reopening the Dartford River Crossing.
"The man arrested from the Dartford River Crossing today remains in police custody.
"Kent Police would like to thank motorists for their patience and support during what must have been a very frustrating wait."
Police did not comment on whether the arrested man had been in possession of a weapon.
News Shopper previously published dramatic images showing a police robot probing the suspicious package, which it is believed was found on a white coach.
The package is pictured on the bonnet of the police car whilst it is approached by the robot, which was deployed by explosives teams at the scene.
Thousands of motorists were stranded in their cars on what turned into a Friday rush hour from hell.
Drivers heading into Kent across the QE2 Bridge were turned around and sent back into Essex whilst vehicles attempting to use the Dartford Tunnels to reach Essex were diverted along the A2 to the Blackwall Tunnel.
But queues quickly built up on all the diversion routes, with traffic back as far as the Falconwood turn off on the A2 in Bexley.
X Factor winner Joe McElderry was also forced to delay his headline show at The Woodville in Gravesend by 15 minutes due to the delays in the area.
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