AUSTIN, Texas -- Tens of thousands of people streamed off university campuses in North Dakota, Texas and Ohio on Friday after telephoned bomb threats prompted officials to warn students and faculty to get away as quickly as possible. All three campuses eventually were deemed safe and reopened by the evening, as authorities worked to determine whether the threats were related.
The FBI was working to determine whether the threats to North Dakota State University, the University of Texas and Hiram College in Ohio were related. No explosives were found.
The University of Texas received a call about 8:35 a.m. local time from a man claiming to be with al-Qaida who said he had placed bombs all over the 50,000-student Austin campus, according to University of Texas spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon. He claimed the bombs would go off in 90 minutes and all buildings were evacuated at 9:50 a.m., Weldon said.
The deadline passed without incident, and the university reopened all buildings by noon. Classes were cancelled for the rest of the day, but other university activities were to resume by 5 p.m.
North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani said 20,000 people also were evacuated from his school's main and downtown campuses in Fargo after the school received its threat. FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said a call that included a "threat of an explosive device" came in about 9:45 a.m., but he declined to give further details.
NDSU buildings reopened about 1 p.m. and classes were set to resume an hour later, said Bresciani, adding the campus had been "deemed safe."
Graduate student Lee Kiedrowski of Dickinson, N.D. said he was walking on campus just before 10 a.m. when he got a text message telling him students had been ordered to evacuate within 15 minutes.
"The panic button wasn't triggered quite immediately," said Kiedrowski. "But there was definitely the thought that we live in a different world now, and with everything that's going on with the riots at the U.S. embassies in the Middle East, your brain just starts moving. You never really know what's going on."
-- The Associated Press