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US considers banning laptops on flights from UK airports

All travellers from Europe could face ban aimed at thwarting terrorists who want to smuggle explosive devices in consumer items

The Trump administration is considering barring passengers flying to the US from UK airports from carrying laptops, sources have told the Guardian.

The proposed ban would be similar to one already imposed on travellers from several Middle Eastern countries.

British officials understand that their US counterparts are looking at extending the ban which prevents any devices larger than a smartphone being taken as carry-on luggage to flights from Europe.

One Whitehall source suggested to the Guardian that although it was not certain that the ban would be extended to the UK, the US was considering doing so.

The US government unexpectedly imposed the ban in late March for flights from 10 airports in the Middle East.

Passengers must stow their devices in checked-in baggage on flights from the affected airports in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

All are close US allies and none are covered by the Trump administrations attempts to ban travellers from six other mostly Muslim nations.

Hours after sending a confidential edict from the US Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) to airlines, the Trump administration hastily arranged a press briefing to explain that the ban had been imposed after intelligence emerged that terrorists favoured smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items. The TSA directive is understood to be valid until 14 October.

It was not immediately clear why US authorities might want to extend the ban on taking electronic devices such as tablets, e-readers and laptops to flights from European airports.

Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for the US Department of Homeland Security, said: Weve said we will continue to evaluate the threat environment and make determinations based on that assessment, but we have not made any decisions on expanding the current restrictions against large electronic devices in aircraft cabins from selected airports.

The UK has also banned electronic devices on flights from six countries: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey, with UK airlines including British Airways and easyJet among those affected.

The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, denied that the UK ban on laptops implied that airport security in the countries affected meant their airport security was lax.

While the US ban applies to anything larger than a smartphone, the UK regulations give specific dimensions.

The bans sparked criticism from technology experts, who said the new rules appeared to be at odds with basic computer science.

Nicholas Weaver, researcher at the International Computer Science Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, said last month: It doesnt match a conventional threat model. If you assume the attacker is interested in turning a laptop into a bomb, it would work just as well in the cargo hold.

Restricting electronic devices to checked baggage for flights from the Middle East has been a commercial boost to US carriers at the expense of their Gulf rivals, which include Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.

US airlines have long contended that the three fast-growing carriers benefit from unfair government subsidies with which American, Delta and United cannot compete and have lobbied the Trump administration to intervene. All three Gulf airlines consistently deny that they receive such benefits.

However, extending the restriction would potentially hit US airlines, given the volume of traffic across the Atlantic to airports such as Heathrow. American airlines operate a relatively small number of flights to destinations in the Middle East.

Some Middle Eastern airlines have resorted to lending tablets to business and first-class passengers and allowing them to check devices at the gate, rather than the check-in counter.

Anushka Asthana, Sabrina Siddiqui and Gwyn Topham contributed to this report

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WA shark attack: authorities try to identify predator after teenage surfer killed

Police say surfboard will be analysed after third person killed in shark attack in Western Australia in less than a year

Authorities have so far failed to identify the shark that bit the leg of a 17-year-old Western Australian girl, who died on Tuesday after suffering major blood loss.

The teenager, who was surfing with her father during an Easter family holiday, is the third person to die after a shark attack in WA in less than a year.

She was mauled at the popular surf break Kelp Beds, near Wylie Bay, in Esperance, just before 4pm on Monday as her mother and two sisters watched in horror from the beach.

The girl was bitten on the leg, suffered massive blood loss and died at Esperance hospital a couple of hours later. The family is from Singleton, near Mandurah.

Esperance police acting senior sergeant Ben Jeffes said the girl was a competent surfer. Her broken surfboard has been recovered and will be analysed to determine what kind of shark it was.

What we have now are the debris which make a complete board, Jeffes told ABC radio on Tuesday. It will be sent to scientists at the Department of Fisheries for examination.

Theres a real sense of sadness and loss in the community here, its just terrible, Jeffes said.

Professional local fisherman Neville Mansted said it was a tragedy.

Theres a lot of people in shock, he told local Perth radio 6PR. It was one of my favourite surf spots but I think I might be crossing it off the list, together with a few other places.

The Shark Smart WA website recorded two public shark sightings in the Esperance area last week.

A medium-sized white shark was seen 150m offshore at Two Mile Beach in Hopetoun and another was seen 300m offshore at Crazies Reef.

The fact that there was a couple of sightings out there during the week, and with Easter coming on, I cant believe that somebody hasnt done something, like a fisheries patrol, Mansted said. Trouble is, nobody seems to be interested because its not them thats being bitten. Thats the tragic part.

Mansted said WA needed shark nets.

The fatal attack has revived debate about measures to protect the public from sharks in WA. The fisheries minister, Dave Kelly, confirmed drum lines were not deployed following the attack, because the new Labor government did not believe they made beaches safer.

The fact that drum lines werent deployed this morning, I think you can safely say, was a result of the change in policy from the election, the West Australian reported him as saying.

We made it clear in opposition that we dont see the merit in automatically deploying drum lines in these circumstances. This morning the beach is closed, the beach is clear, theres no one in the water. Its a reasonably remote location so there is no purpose served this morning by deploying drum lines.

The beach at Wylie Bay remained closed on Tuesday and the Department of Fisheries was conducting beach and water patrols. Surfers and swimmers have been told not to go into the water for at least two days.

The Esperance shire president, Victoria Brown, said she had been inundated with people asking how they could help.

In June last year, shark attacks resulted in the deaths of surfer Ben Gerring at Mandurah and diver Doreen Collyer at Mindarie Marina in Perth.

In 2014, Sean Pollard lost his right hand and left arm above the elbow.

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