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Bomb threats test emergency response

  • 2004-12-09
  • From wire reports
TALLINN - A bomb threat startled the Meloodia ferry crew into action Dec. 4, though the alarm turned out to be nothing more than an emergency drill. The Tallink Group, which operates the ferry, said the onboard team had acted professionally and in accordance with international shipping safety regulations.

Ulo Kollo, the group's technical director, said the crew observed the international ship and port facility security code, as well as the ferry's corresponding security plan.

"The ferry's trained team immediately began to search the ship without causing panic - a key consideration in such cases. As a rule, ships are at sea, and therefore it is the duty of the crew to carry out preliminary work themselves," Kollo said. He added that Tallink had repeatedly held emergency exercises with internal state security structures.

During the drill, the shipping company collaborated with all state organizations, including Estonian and Finnish police.

In light of the gravity of the drill, Interior Minister Margus Leivo has asked for a thorough overview and analysis of the drill procedure and the power structures following the bomb threat.

The Meloodia received the bomb threat at 2:53 p.m. but was still able to leave the port for Helsinki at 4:20 p.m.

Tallink didn't inform police about the threat until an-hour-and-a-half later, at 4:25 p.m. while sea-bound.

Leivo, who heads the government crisis commission, has asked the state police, rescue board, security police, Ministry of Economy and Communications and Tallink to give a detailed overview of the event on Dec. 11.

The minister wants to know what measures were taken and how such action plans were regulated, an Interior Ministry said.

Kalev Tiberg, the Interior Ministry's deputy chancellor for internal security, told public broadcaster ETV that Tallink's conduct was impermissible, as the shipper did not immediately inform police about the threat.

Soon after 8 p.m. on the same day, Tallink received another phone call warning that a bomb would go off on the ship at 9 p.m. The Meloodia was berthed in Helsinki at the time, and Finnish police ran a check of the ship, the crew and embarking passengers and vehicles.

The ferry embarked soon after 10 p.m.

On Dec. 5 officers from the north police district detained a 54-year-old woman in Tallinn who said she made the bomb threats in order to prevent a male acquaintance from boarding the ship.