Armed police surround coach on M6 toll – but drama ‘was not counter-terrorism operation’
ALMOST 50 passengers were evacuated today after armed police surrounded a Megabus coach on the M6 toll near Lichfield.
Staffordshire Police say the incident began at around 8.20am after they received a report from a member of the public who was concerned about suspicious activity on the coach, which was travelling from Preston to London.
A spokesman for the force said this lunchtime they were not treating the incident as a counter-terrorism operation.
The spokesman said: "Following an initial assessment, we can confirm that no-one has been injured and that there is no danger to passengers at the scene or any other travellers who were on the motorway at that time."
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"We are also not treating anyone as a suspect."
Further examinations and investigations are taking place but passengers have been put on another bus for their comfort and safety, the spokesman added.
The incident between junctions T3 and T4 at Weeford Park Plaza has resulted in the closure of both the north-bound and south-bound carriageways.
It is understood the coach, which was carrying 48 passengers, pulled over on to the hardshoulder of its own accord, around 200 metres from the toll plaza.
Staffordshire Police said this lunchtime they were not treating the incident as a counter-terrorism operation.
Earlier a spokeswoman for Megabus, which is operated by Stagecoach, said: "We are assisting police with their inquiries into an allegation made against a passenger who was travelling on board one of our services."
There had been unconfirmed reports suggesting a passenger was seen pouring liquid into a smoking bag.
Armed police officers surrounded the single-decker coach on the south-bound carriageway as passengers were led off the vehicle one by one.
After being evacuated, the passengers were made to sit in a cordoned off area.
As the incident unfolded, there was speculation on social media that it was linked to this morning’s arrests of six people in London as part of a pre-planned counter-terrorism operation.
Staffordshire Police have since confirmed they are not treating the incident as a counter-terrorism operation.
Last update: 1.25pm