The U.K. Parliament building in London — also known as the Palace of Westminster — is on lockdown Wednesday afternoon after authorities discovered a suspicious package outside.
“Police were called at approximately 15:39hrs on Wednesday, 17 October to reports of a suspicious package at Embankment Gardens, SW1,” a police spokesman told the Daily Mail.
Police have cordoned off a stretch of Victoria embankment outside Parliament. Apparently there is a suspect package. Police stationed outside but no disruption to Parliamentary business pic.twitter.com/E3xTYqjJyA
— kateferguson (@kateferguson4) October 17, 2018
The package was identified on the south side of the Parliament building, prompting officers to direct evacuations to another exit. Citizens were also ordered to move to the opposite side of the building and stay clear of windows.
Authorities deployed a specialized bomb investigation robot, which later carried out a controlled explosion of the suspicious package.
Witnesses reported sounds of an explosion in the area.
Big bang (controlled explosion?) just now and Embankment by Parliament blocked off to traffic and pedestrians. pic.twitter.com/3IKIShs6fa
— Michael Fabricant (@Mike_Fabricant) October 17, 2018
Police confirmed they carried out a controlled explosion at 4:40 p.m. local time, according to The Mirror. “The package has been deemed non suspicious,” police said after the explosion.
Roads surrounding Parliament were closed as authorities investigated the scene. Road closures also surrounding the Portcullis House across the street, which houses many law enforcement offices.
No movement along Vic Embankment from Westminster Bridge all the way to Hungerford Bridge. pic.twitter.com/jjPZiw65k5
— Daniel Atherton (@DAtherton94) October 17, 2018
“’Officers, London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade are in attendance. Cordons and road closures have been put in place. Enquiries continue,” the spokesman added.
It isn’t the first time a suspicious package has threatened Parliament. In Feb. 2018, a suspicious package was identified and investigated by a heavy police presence, although no road closures or building evacuations took place. Parliament was in recess at the time.
Parliament experienced a lockdown just two months ago when a car plowed into pedestrians and cyclists just outside the building, injuring three.
Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu of the Metropolitan Police, who is also in charge of counterterrorism efforts in the U.K., told reporters at the time: “Given that this appears to be a deliberate act, the method and this being an iconic site, we are treating it as a terrorist incident.”
Given the increase of terror incidents in the UK, authorities appear to be taking increased precautionary measures when investigating suspicious incidents.