BDF  Blunder: Firework Mistaken for IED

BDF Blunder: Firework Mistaken for IED

Tonight, the Belize Defense Force is staring down an embarrassing situation after its bomb experts confused an explosive device with a used firework. Last week, a leaked report from the Belize Defense Force’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit stated that an object found onboard a Maya Island Air flight was an improvised explosive device (IED). The report was then shared in the public domain by a local media house.  It turned out to be a grave error with potential impact to travelers and tourists.  According to the BDF, they conducted a second review and found out that the alleged live explosive was nothing more than a used pyrotechnic flare. Chief Executive Officer of the BDF’s Service and Support Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Brandon Garcia, explained that the expert erred in his judgment and said the military force is working to ensure that there is not a repeat of such a blunder.

Lieutenant Colonel Brandon Garcia, CEO, BDF Service and Support Battalion: “The majority of the time when we respond to these threats, we have both the civilian populace and also our bomb technicians in mind. We need to ensure that they’re safe and we need to ensure that majority of the information gathered from these from these devices are kept tight lipped because we don’t want confusion and panic to ensue. We are looking into exploring that possibility of seeing where we went wrong as an organization. However, these individuals that responded to this issue we are going through steps to ensure that there isn’t a recurrence. We have made steps in collaborating with the police department, with the civil aviation. We also sought advice from Brigadier General Retired David Jones. And again, all this collaboration is so that we don’t make… there is no such reoccurrence in terms of the professionalism of the bomb tech. That vast disparity exists initially. Our bomb technicians didn’t have the… didn’t examine the device thoroughly. And when they confirmed that the device was a low hazard or a consumer pyrotechnic we immediately rectified that and sent out that report. The discrepancies I cannot speak to. All I know that these things are quite sensitive. This is the issue we get when things get leaked to the media. We will keep on playing that catch-up game when things get leaked to the media. So as for the discrepancy, I apologize on behalf of the Belize Defense Force and looking forward, we do intend to ensure that we enhance the capabilities of the bomb technicians.”

While the object was not an explosive device, the leaked information held potential damage to the air carrier, and its customer base as was conceded to by the Commissioner of Police.  Chester Williams commented, saying that the incident highlights a need for greater security at the municipal airport to ensure domestic flights are free of incidents. 

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “I have seen demonstration done with the type of device where a paper it was lit and a piece of paper was placed above it and it would not even scorch that paper. So I don’t know if it would have done some damage to the plane but again you know if a device like that would be in a plane and it goes off even though it’s a flare, it will cause people to panic and just panicking may cause the pilot to do things that he would not normally do and it may cause issues so I am not going to say that it would not have. But again, I also learned that the device could not have gone off on its own it needed additional features in order for it to have been ignited. It’s important for us to find out who may have left it on the plane and at the same time the police have interviewed a number of persons. We have looked at the flight manifest for that day and I think that the particular plane had done three runs between San Pedro and Belize City and so it would have been extremely difficult to ascertain exactly at which point the device was left on the plane and who may have left it there. As well as the intention of the person. It could have been that someone forgot it there. It could have also been that it was intentionally left. But be it as it may, we believe that there is a need now to look at further security when it comes to the airline, the local airline industry to make sure that whenever any of these planes arrive at a municipal airstrip that there’s someone who searches these planes to ensure that there’s nothing left on them. So it’s something that we’ll have to discuss with the government to see what can be done to give some sense of safety or security to those persons who use the local airlines.”

We reached out to the airline for comments, but our request went unanswered. 

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