Australia teen `alright` after fake bomb ordeal

Madeleine Pulver underwent a 10-hour ordeal with what she thought was a bomb strapped to her neck.

Sydney: An Australian teenager who underwent a 10-hour ordeal with what she thought was a bomb strapped to her neck emerged on Friday to say she was "alright" as police stepped up their investigations.

Madeleine Pulver, 18, was studying in the kitchen of her wealthy parents` Sydney mansion on Wednesday when a masked intruder broke in and chained a device around her neck in a drama that gripped Australia.

It led to a drawn-out operation involving the bomb squad, which eventually determined the device was a sophisticated fake.

A note was left at the scene and police are treating it as an extortion attempt.

"I`m alright," Pulver said outside her home on Friday as she emerged for the first time, before being driven away by her parents Belinda and William.

The teenager was treated in hospital following the incident, which unfolded in the unlikely setting of Mosman, one of Sydney`s most exclusive suburbs.

In a bizarre twist to what the media were calling a "real-life thriller", the note reportedly carried the name of a sinister fictional character.

The Sydney Morning Herald and other newspapers said it referred to Dirk Struan, the lead character in James Clavell`s 1966 novel "Tai-Pan" about European and American traders in Hong Kong in 1842.

There were also unconfirmed reports that a computer memory stick was embedded in the hoax bomb.

Police revealed the note contained a threat to detonate the device should authorities be contacted, but no demand for money despite the Pulvers being one of Sydney`s wealthiest families.

New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said it was an unusual case.

"This is the sort of crime we haven`t seen in Australia before and for that reason, it`s important we keep a close watch on it," he told reporters.

"We`re going to let the investigators get on with their job, do what has to be done. They will tie down every lead, this will be a lengthy investigation."

He added that inquiries were "well advanced".

Constable Karen Lowden was one of the first police officers on the scene Wednesday and has been hailed a hero after sitting with Pulver for the first three hours of her ordeal despite the danger.

"It was a difficult situation for both of us, we were both trying to just get through that process," said Lowden, a mother-of-two.

"I definitely felt like there was a connection there, having a child myself I knew I just wanted to be there for her, I didn`t want to move," she added.

"I stayed calm because I knew she needed that calmness. I can`t say that I`m any braver than any other police officer, I had a lot of support with me."

Bureau Report

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