LONDON - False alarm: British police say reports of suspicious activity on a bus, which set off a massive emergency response and forced the closure of a section of a major highway in central England, were unfounded.
The culprit? An electronic cigarette.
Armed police evacuated passengers from the bus and bomb disposal units, ambulances and fire engines descended on the Weeford toll plaza of the M6 highway in the West Midlands, 187 kilometres north of London, after the initial reports on Thursday.
The sweeping emergency response came just weeks before the Olympic Games are due to be held in the British capital.
But several hours later, Staffordshire police said the scene was safe and no suspects were in custody.
The force said it had received a "genuine report" from a member of the public about vapour escaping from a bag on the bus, which upon investigation turned out to be an electronic cigarette — a device that aims to help smokers quit.
"We can now confirm that, whilst this was a genuine security alert, the significant concerns reported to us were unfounded," the force said.