Train services were disrupted for more than an hour on Hong Kong's East Rail Line on Thursday afternoon after a suspicious object was found off the tracks between Kowloon Tong and Tai Wai MTR stations.
Bomb disposal officers said a shoebox-like object, wrapped in duct tape, was found near Tai Wai MTR station in Sha Tin soon after 11.30am on Thursday.
Traditional Chinese characters meaning "Hong Kong National Independence Party" were found written on it, assistant Sha Tin district commander (crime), Superintendent Chan Yan said.
"Our colleagues from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau blew it up, only to find it was an empty shoebox. There was no bomb or explosives inside," he said.
"The box was wrapped to make it look like a bomb. It is difficult for commoners to understand whether there is a bomb inside or not. If not handled with caution, such items can lead to a disaster."
Soon after 2pm, the MTR Corporation said train services on the route between Hung Hom and the border district of Sheung Shui were gradually resuming after a thorough inspection by police.
Free shuttle buses were arranged for passengers commuting between Kowloon Tong and Tai Wai.
The Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau MTR stations on Hong Kong's border with mainland China have already been temporarily closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
It was the fourth time since February 2 that suspicious objects were found on MTR premises.
"Lawbreakers create panic by breaching public peace amid a tense situation created by the coronavirus outbreak. These are irresponsible acts," Chan said, adding that police would bring the criminals to justice.
In Hong Kong, the offence of staging a bomb hoax carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail.
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