Buildings Evacuated at Harvard After Report of Explosives

Harvard University on Monday evacuated four buildings at the heart of its centuries-old campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, after warning students of unconfirmed reports that explosives had been planted.

The Ivy League school said it evacuated the Science Center, Thayer, Sever and Emerson Halls. "Out of an abundance of caution, the buildings have been evacuated while the report is investigated," Harvard said on its website.

Institutions across the Boston area have been on an elevated state of alert since the April 15 bombing attack at the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured 264.

The Harvard campus police, Cambridge Police and Massachusetts State Police, including the bomb squad, responded to the campus, where they set up yellow-taped perimeters around the evacuated buildings and directed students to move away.

SWAT team officers arrive at a building at Harvard University in Cambridge on Dec. 16, 2013. /AP SWAT team officers arrive at a building at Harvard University in Cambridge on Dec. 16, 2013. /AP

University officials closed Harvard Yard -- the wooded and snow-covered historic center of the campus -- to outside pedestrians, allowing only people who held Harvard identification to enter.

People could be seen walking calmly outside the campus.

The school, founded in 1636, has about 21,000 students.

Police did not immediately return calls seeking further details.

Harvard's campus is located in a densely populated urban area adjoining Boston. Students this week were scheduled to take final exams.

"I've been here eight years and we've had a couple of one-off incidents, but nothing of this scale," said Travis Lovett, 33, of Wakefield, Massachusetts, who works at Harvard.

It was the latest in a series of security scares at U.S. schools and universities. Three days ago a Colorado high school student intent on confronting a teacher opened fire at his school, severely wounding a classmate before killing himself.

Late last month Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, placed its campus on lockdown for most of a day, after an anonymous caller warned officials that his roommate was headed to the school planning to shoot people. No gunman was found and police now regard the incident as a hoax.

VOA News / Dec. 18, 2013 08:00 KST