Terminal 2 in Germany's Munich airport was shut down Wednesday after a man whose laptop triggered an alarm for explosives fled with the device.
Over 100 outbound planes were prevented from departing the airport, with flights to Munich that were waiting to take off being grounded for hours around the world.
Officials were quick to offer possibilities excluding a terror attempt.
German federal police spokesman Albert Poerschke told a local news agency that the alarm "doesn't necessarily have to mean that there were explosives inside."
A special unit of police sniffer dogs and 200 police officers sought the mysterious man for over three hours before the hunt was called off.
Poerschke listed various possibilities as to what had happened, none of which were that the man – who reportedly carried only hand luggage – had attempted to bring explosives onto a plane. Among the options: "the man didn't realize there were more checks to come," "it's possible that the passenger was in a big rush and he didn't hear, or didn't want to hear" the alarm, he may have had to "just run to his flight," or the explosive scare may have been a false alarm, according to Poerschke. Yet another reason presented for the alarm is that other chemical substances, like perfume, set it off.
The terminal – which is used for flights to European Union countries, and does not require passengers to present passports – was closed at 3:30pm and reopened at 6:42pm local time.
It is not clear how the man escaped despite the fact that airports worldwide have beefed up security in the wake of a recent attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 over Michigan on December 25.