Amsterdam Centraal, Hoofddorp stations evacuated on suspicious package, "threats"

Hoofddorp Station closed
Hoofddorp station was evacuated and sealed off when a passenger was accused of making threats on a train after the Brussels attack. Mar. 22, 2016 (photo: POL_Hmeer / Twitter). (Hoofddorp station was evacuated and sealed off when a passenger was accused of making threats on a train after the Brussels attack. Mar. 22, 2016 (photo: POL_Hmeer / Twitter))

With reporting by Janene Pieters.

Police ordered the evacuation of parts of Amsterdam Centraal after an unattended package was found on the walkway dividing platforms 13 and 14 there. Meanwhile, the station in Hoofddorp, just west of the Amsterdam airport, was also shut down around 11 a.m. after a passenger on a train between the two cities acted suspiciously and was heard making threats, according to railway infrastructure firm ProRail. 

Officers and fire department personnel surrounded the suburban train station as a police helicopter flew overhead. A police rapid response team arrived at Hoofddorp by 11:30 a.m., after the entire area around the station was cleared as a precaution. It was still closed as of noon. Police released few details beyond a message sent out on Twitter confirming the incident, which was quickly deleted from the social media service.

Trains to Schiphol Airport were also put on hold from Amsterdam’s main train station, as well as trains headed to the airport from Leiden, which travel via Hoofddorp.

At Amsterdam Centraal, police confirmed that an armed man was arrested by police, and taken to a holding facility. Authorities said they were acting on information when they found the man on a train, and they stress it was unrelated to terrorist attacks in Brussels on Tuesday. Police announced the arrest just after 1 p.m., but it is not clear when the man was arrested.

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squad was called in to investigate the suspicious package at Amsterdam Centraal, which turned out to be a backpack left on a bench. The EOD investigated and gave the all-clear on the backpack around 11:45 a.m., according to the Telegraaf. The platforms were released and put back into use.

As of 11:45 a.m. at least six trains from Amsterdam to the airport were scrapped and at least 8 trains from Leiden. Travelers should take extra travel time of between 30 and 60 minutes into account. According to NS, it is not clear how long this delay will continue, but passengers were advised to find up-to-date information on their website.

The Dutch authorities are on high alert following three suicide bombings in Brussels earlier on Tuesday morning. The Ministry of Security and Justice decided to increase police presence on large train stations in the Netherlands, a spokesperson for Minister Ard van der Steur announced in the Hague. A number of stations in the Netherlands' four large cities will have extra police officers patrolling.