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Harvard evacuates buildings after explosives reported

12:51 PM, Dec 16, 2013   |    comments
Harvard University (Photo: Elise Amendola, AP)
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Four buildings at Harvard University were evacuated and morning final exams were canceled Monday after the school said it had "unconfirmed" reports of explosives.

The alert was issued shortly after 9 a.m. Harvard University Police Department spokesman Steven Catalano, in a phone interview, told The Harvard Crimson shortly before 11 a.m. that no explosives had been found so far, the school newspaper tweeted.

Harvard issued the alert on its website, on Twitter and in emails citing "unconfirmed reports of explosives at four sites on campus: Science Center, Thayer, Sever, and Emerson. Please evacuate those buildings now."

The school tweeted that there had been no explosions. Faculty, staff and students were being updated through "Web, email and voicemail," the website said. Access to Harvard Yard, the historic center of campus, was being limited to residents with Harvard ID cards, the website said.

"Out of an abundance of caution, the buildings have been evacuated while the report is investigated," the website statement said. "Harvard's focus is on the safety of our students, faculty and staff. We will update the media when we have more information."

The university said school and Cambridge, Mass., police were investigating. The Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority Police said they sent K9 and special operations units to the scene. State troopers from the K9 and bomb squads also responded, Massachusetts State Police said. Boston police also were involved.

Students Alexander Ryjik and Diego Abrahao said their professor was handing out exam booklets for their Politics of American Education class when the alert went out that they had to leave Emerson Hall.

"I have a good guess somebody called it in so they wouldn't have to take an exam," Ryjik told the Associated Press. "It's frustrating because now the exam will have to be postponed."

Jay Harris, dean of undergraduate education, told students gathered at Harvard's Annenberg Hall, the freshman dining facility, that Monday morning final exams had been canceled due to the scare, the Crimson reported.

"Following announcement, students erupt in applause," the Crimson tweeted.

The main campus of the school, among the nation's most prestigious, sits on 210 acres in Cambridge. Harvard's student body includes about 6,700 undergraduates and another 14,500 graduate and professional students. Final exams have been taking place for several days, and scores of finals were scheduled Monday.

(USA TODAY)

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