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"Six hospitalized after powder find at Florida airport"
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Six hospitalized after powder find at Fla. airport
MIAMI – Six people were taken to hospital, one with nasal irritation, after
a white powdery substance was found Tuesday in a cargo building at Southwest
Florida International Airport at Fort Myers, airport officials and medical
Airport spokeswoman Laska Ryan said the airport was alerted to the powder by
package carrier FedEx and called police, firefighters and paramedics to the
Paul Filla, a spokesman for Lee County Emergency Medical Services, said six
people were first decontaminated by emergency workers and then taken to
nearby Cape Coral hospital. He said this was largely a precautionary
measure, but one person was complaining of irritation to the nasal passage.
"The exposure came at an air cargo building adjacent to the airport, I
understand a FedEx building," he said. Filla said the powder apparently
leaked from a package or container that had come on a FedEx flight from its
hub at Memphis.
Fort Myers city hazardous materials agents were currently investigating the
Passenger operations at the airport were not affected since the incident was
well away from the passenger terminals, Ryan said.
She had no details of what the powder was, how many people were taken ill or
what their symptoms were.
A spokeswoman at FedEx Corp. said she did not immediately have further
details on the incident.
Law enforcement agencies and the public have been on alert for suspicious
powders in the United States amid increased fears of biological or chemical
attacks after the hijacked plane attacks on New York and Washington on Sept.
11, 2001, and after a spate of anthrax attacks several months later.
In late 2001, several letters containing anthrax spores were mailed through
a New Jersey postal center to news media offices in Washington, New York and
Five people, including two postal workers who worked at Brentwood mail
facility in Washington, died and 23 others were made ill.
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