Suspicious cargo container disrupts traffic at LA port

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 21, 2011 11:18 PM

By Mary Slosson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Cargo traffic at the Port of Los Angeles was disrupted on Wednesday after longshoremen discovered a shipping container with the word "bomb" spray painted on it, a spokesman for the facility said.

Dock workers at the nation's busiest container port reported coming across the suspicious container as it was being unloaded from a ship on Wednesday afternoon, port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said.

Roughly 10 percent of the port was forced to close as the area was cordoned off and a Los Angeles Police Department bomb squad, bomb-sniffing dogs and other agencies arrived to investigate the container, Sanfield said.

The loading and unloading of two cargo vessels was temporarily halted at one of the ports' eight container terminals, he added.

He said the word "bomb" had been spray painted on the container in a "couple" of spots.

The 20-person crew of the ship in question -- the APL Belgium, a Singapore-flagged vessel that originated in Vietnam and stopped over in Oakland, California, en route to Los Angeles -- was evacuated as a precaution, Sanfield said.

"We see all sorts of cargo that's inspected and odd things," Sanfield said, but "it's unusual to have that sort of graffiti on a container at the port."

Police spokesman Cleon Joseph said no threat was received by the port in connection with the suspicious container.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Peter Bohan)