There was a brief commotion earlier today at the airport in Rome, and it turned out to all be over a suitcase... full of coconuts. We don't have a clear understanding yet of what exactly happened, but freelance journalist Ned Donovan was on the scene and shared some updates.
From Donovan's tweets, it looks like the police "blew up" (his words) a suitcase, and began searching a nearby person.
But what could have been a very scary situation pretty quickly revealed itself to be a case of simply suspicious fruits (nuts?), as the suitcase appears to have contained not much more than a lovely bunch of coconuts.
At which point, it appears, the police were satisfied that the there was no imminent threat posed by the produce and left the husk-y mess alone.
If the police were concerned that the coconuts were bombs—perhaps because they resemble cartoonish clip art bombs on X-ray footage, although we don't know yet exactly what tipped off security forces—it wouldn't be the first time that's happened. In 2012, a courthouse in Maryland was briefly evacuated when someone spotted a suspicious-looking coconut. They were worried because it appeared to have been split in half and then resealed, although frankly any unattended produce on the floor of a municipal building is a little odd.
But maybe they were just overreacting to a case of illegal coconut transportation. A brief search reveals varied and often conflicting information about whether or not coconuts are allowed on airplanes. Anecdotal evidence suggests you can request an agriculture inspection at the airport to take a coconut with you when flying out of Hawaii (which seems to contradict TSA's official but vague stipulation prohibiting produce aboard flights from US islands onto the continent). But crowdsourced information on Quora (so, grain of salt) seems to think coconuts are specifically banned aboard aircrafts because of their highly flammable husks. We've reached out to the TSA (admittedly, not the Italian airport security but hopefully they'll be able to shed some light on the situation nonetheless) for a definitive ruling on flying with coconuts but have not yet received a response.
But while we have you, can we clear up one thing:
Coconuts are definitely not mammals. Even if they do produce "milk."