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9/11/2003
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OracleWorld Back On Schedule After Bomb Scare

Conference resumed Thursday without incident after police evacuated the Moscone Center Wednesday.

OracleWorld was back on schedule Thursday after a bomb scare Wednesday afternoon resulted in the evacuation of San Francisco's Moscone Center, where the conference is being held.

Police ordered the building vacated at 2:45 p.m. PDT. Most of the 20,000 attendees poured out of the Moscone Center and milled around the nearby street corners, while others evacuated the center through subterranean service areas. Police blocked traffic passing between the two wings of the center on Howard Street between Third and Fourth streets and brought in a canine unit to help search the cavernous conference center.

No bomb was found and Oracle employees were allowed back into the center just before 4:30 p.m. The rest of the day's scheduled events were canceled, with the exception of the OracleWorld party held in a different location later that evening. Attendees weren't allowed back into the building.

Police made an additional search of the Moscone Center Thursday morning and police canine units continued to patrol the building.

The evacuation took the attendees by surprise.

"I was in the middle of a presentation by EMC2 on the trade show floor. The speaker had just put on a straitjacket when somebody came up to him and whispered into his ear," said Carol Pasq, a San Francisco computer consultant who had arrived at the show minutes before and was surprised by the police cars in front of the building.

"The speaker said, 'Why don't you take this thing off me.' After being helped out of the straitjacket, he announced that the building was being cleared because of a bomb scare," Pasq said. A calm public-service announcement was made of a "security threat" during a keynote address being made at the time by Oracle VP Ken Jacobs. Attendees appeared to exit the building without mishap.

As some show floor attendees were on their way out, the escalator carrying people toward the exits stopped and reversed direction, Pasq said. Because of recent knee surgery, she searched for an escalator that was still running in the right direction to get out of the building.

A Seybold Seminar 2003 was going on at the same time in the new west wing of the Moscone Center along Fourth Street between Howard and Mission. Attendees there were also ordered to vacate as the main conference center emptied out.

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