Belfast Telegraph

Lagan College alert - white powder found to be 'not harmful'

By Cate McCurry

Police have said that white powder found in a package posted to a Belfast secondary school was not harmful.

Investigations are ongoing to establish the exact contents of the suspicious item.

Police and the Fire and Rescue Service were called to Lagan College on the outskirts of south Belfast after the envelope containing white powder was received in the mail.

The school was put in lockdown as the emergency services were tasked to the scene.

Hazardous material experts from the Fire Service also attended.

Some 1,400 students were escorted to the back of the building where they remained for several hours while an investigation was carried out.

The school gates remained shut for most of the day, while police officers prevented anyone from leaving or entering the school's premises.

A text message from the school to parents said that the PSNI was investigating an issue at the "front of the school site".

The message read: "All students and staff are safe but the PSNI have stated that no member of the public can access the site at present to go out or come in. We will keep you informed of the situation."

A number of concerned parents arriving to collect their children said they knew very little about the unfolding situation.

Students were eventually allowed to leave the school at around 3.30pm.

One parent, Esther Gillespie from east Belfast, said she was worried for her 15-year-old son.

"I was very concerned for my son and his friends," she said.

"It's very disruptive to people who are working.

"No-one seems to know anything about what has happened."

Another mother, from the Castlereagh Road area, said she received a phone call from her son about the incident.

"I wasn't sure what was happening, but I wasn't too concerned as they said pupils and staff were fine so I knew they had it under control," she said.

"I think we are all a bit confused as to what the substance could be but I'm sure everything will be okay."

Chief Inspector Lorraine Dobson said: "The powder has been tested and has been described as 'not hazardous'.

"I would like to thank the teachers and pupils at the school for their co-operation."

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