Hasan Suroor

Polonium came from a source "other than a natural one"

LONDON: The British Airways on Friday said one of its three planes which had shown traces of a radioactive material had been cleared, but two aircraft belonging to Russian companies were being checked for suspected contamination.

The possibility of more aeroplanes having been contaminated by the radio-active material suspected to have killed the former KGB agent, Alexander Litvinenko, was not ruled out.

"There may be other aeroplanes of which we do not at this stage know, but those are the five that we know of," Home Secretary John Reid told MPs. The number of locations where traces have been found since Litvinenko's death more than a week ago rose to 12.

The British Airways said the Health Protection Agency had given the all-clear to the plane and passengers were not believed to be at risk. It had contacted more than 5,000 customers who travelled on 221 European flights between October 25 and November 29. At an inquest into the death of Litvinenko, the coroner said the level of polonium-210 in Litvinenko's system indicated it had come from a source "other than a natural one."