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FBI probes 'needles in sandwiches'

The FBI and police at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport have opened a criminal investigation into how needles got into turkey sandwiches served to passengers on Delta Air Lines flights from Amsterdam to the United States.

Delta said what appear to be sewing needles were found in five sandwiches on Sunday. One passenger on a flight to Minneapolis was injured. The other needles were on two flights to Atlanta and one to Seattle.

Airport police spokesman Robert van Kapel said: "We are keeping all options open because at this moment we have no idea why somebody or something put needles inside the sandwiches so that is what we have to investigate."

The sandwiches were made in the Amsterdam kitchen of catering company Gate Gourmet. The company's listed address in the Netherlands is in the Schiphol area, where the Dutch capital's airport is based.

Gate Gourmet's website says the company handles more than three million airline flights each year. The company issued a statement, saying: "We take this matter very seriously, and we have launched our own full-scale investigation."

It also said it was "heightening our already stringent safety and security procedures, to prevent any recurrence". The company also said it is "treating this as a criminal act" and stressed it is "cooperating fully with investigations by local and federal authorities and by our customer".

Dutch authorities have no indication the incident is linked to terrorism and Mr Van Kapel said he had no information on whether there had been any blackmail threats made to the airline or catering company.

The FBI said its Atlanta office has opened a criminal investigation.

Passenger Jim Tonjes of Plymouth, Minnesota, told the Star Tribune newspaper that he felt a sharp poke in his mouth after biting into his sandwich.

"I figured it might be a toothpick," he said. But instead it was a one inch needle that had punctured the roof of his mouth. "It looked like a sewing needle but without an eye. ... I was in shock," he told the newspaper. "I thought, 'Oh, my God.' It's the last thing you expect in a sandwich."

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