A US tourist who sparked an airport evacuation on the last day of her holiday was interviewed by the FBI on returning to the States.

The passenger, from Georgia, caused a major security alert at Durham Tees Valley Airport on Thursday when she left a suitcase in the check-in area.

On landing in Atlanta, she was questioned for more than two hours by security officials, including FBI agents.

They decided her actions were negligent rather than criminal and released her.

She was due to return home via Amsterdam on Thursday when she was challenged by Durham Tees Valley Airport officials about the weight of her luggage.

As reported by The Northern Echo yesterday, she transferred items into one of her other bags and abandoned the black suitcase in the check-in area.

She then boarded the 6am flight to Amsterdam to make a connecting flight to Atlanta.

The airport was closed for more than two hours, passengers were evacuated and an Army bomb disposal team was called in. Several flights were cancelled or delayed.

The bomb disposal team used a remote device to open the case, which was found to contain only travel brochures.

Chief Inspector Bill Dutton, of Durham Police, said: "On arrival in Atlanta, the passenger was met by a number of different security organisations, including the FBI.

"She was certainly made aware of the problems she had caused.

"Our arrangements for dealing with incidents of this kind worked efficiently and smoothly, but the thoughtless actions of one individual caused disruption to the travel arrangements for many hundreds of people and underline the importance of people acting sensibly and not leaving luggage unattended."

One flight to Heathrow and another to Amsterdam were cancelled. An incoming flight from Heathrow was also cancelled.

A flight from Amsterdam was diverted to Newcastle and passengers bound for Malaga were delayed for three hours.

Airport managing director Hugh Lang said: "Inevitably, it did lead to significant disruption for passengers, but I am sure they recognised the need to put safety as our paramount concern."