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German airport closed after live mortar shell found in tourist's backpack

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Police officers guard through the deserted airport in Munich.
Police officers guard through the deserted airport in Munich.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, FILE
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Munich airport was briefly evacuated on Friday after authorities discovered a live mortar shell in a traveller's rucksack.

The explosive device was only found during a security check as the man tried to catch a flight.

The discovery prompted an immediate lockdown of parts of the airport before specialists were able to safely remove the live ammunition and destroy it.

The 28-year-old man told police that he had found the shell during a hiking trip in Switzerland and forgotten it was in his bag.

He is now likely to face criminal charges for breaching aviation safety and explosives laws and will have to pay for the cost of the police operation.

It was unclear whether the operators of Munich airport, Germany’s second-biggest, will also sue the man for damages, German news agency DPA reported.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Austria, police said a 59-year-old man had died after a piece of ammunition exploded on the edge of a small lake.

A Carinthia state police spokesperson said the man was handling the ammunition by the shore of Lake Ossiach in southern Austria early on Friday when it exploded, killing him.

It wasn’t immediately clear what kind of ammunition was involved, but authorities suspect it was a relic from World War II.

Police spokesperson Dominik Sodamin told The Associated Press that large amounts of ammunition were dumped in Austrian lakes at the end of World War II, but they typically don’t pose a great risk to swimmers and other lake users.

Unexploded ordnance from the war sometimes surface in Britain, Poland, Germany, and other countries, where explosive specialists work to clear them.