Houston: A sigh of relief and normalcy returned to the two major public universities in Texas and North Dakota, which were evacuated after bomb threats, as authorities said it was safe to re-enter the buildings.
Campus buildings have re-opened at the University of Texas after a bomb threat forced the area to be evacuated. UT authorities say buildings have been checked and cleared.
Both the universities had to be evacuated yesterday soon after the bomb threats were made. The University of Texas was evacuated first and later North Dakota State University also issued an evacuation notice for all its staff and students.
So far, it hasn't been confirmed whether the threats were linked, but they did happen around the same time. North Dakota State University was eventually reopened after an investigation.
University of Texas President Bill Powers later issued a statement and confirmed that he was "extremely confident that the campus is safe." He explained why it was important to evacuate the premises, saying, "It got to the point where we
thought the prudent thing to do was to clear all buildings," according to tusconnewsnow.com.
He further said that social media, the official website and text messages helped clear the university.
The university canceled all classes for the rest of yesterday. All activities except classes resumed at 5 p.m.
Yesterday morning everyone was told to get as far away from campus as possible.
A man claiming to be with al-Qaeda called The University of Texas in Austin at 8:35 am (local time). He claimed that he had placed bombs all over the 50,000-student Austin campus, University of Texas spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon said.
He claimed the bombs would go off in 90 minutes and all buildings were evacuated at 9:50 am (local time) as a precaution.
Police swept buildings on campus and found no weapons. A sigh of relief to thousands despite criticism about how long it took officials to send out that emergency text telling people to evacuate.
The caller said the bombs would go off in 90 minutes, but people didn't get the text message about needing to evacuate buildings until 15 minutes before the supposed time of detonation.
"It said that there was a threat on campus and to evacuate all buildings," said student Zareen, a fresher from Houston. "We just heard all the sirens go off, and we were kind of freaked out. Normally, that doesn't happen," she said.
There were no updates and fuzzy details.
"Thousands of people were on the roads in rain, sitting aghast and expecting the worst," an Indian origin student Abhay Divakaruni said.
The University of Texas, one of the largest public universities in the US, has more than 50,000 students, and has a very strong concentration of Indian Students. NDSU has more than 14,000 students.