The sounds of controlled detonations pierced the quiet air of one of the nation's most prestigious campuses this morning as police popped the end caps off what they believed to be a suspicious device -- which later turned out to be harmless -- found in an unfinished dorm building at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Two buildings, including the dorm, were evacuated and the Boston police bomb squad, the FBI and officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were called to the scene.
"At around 7:30 a.m. a private contractor doing construction work on the New House dormitory at 471 Memorial Drive at MIT noticed suspicious materials in a common area on the third floor of the building," MIT Director of Communications Nate Nickerson said in a statement. "Officials are still evaluating the scene to determine whether further action is necessary ... We will provide updates when we know more."
Hours later, university officials said, "an object that had the appearance and characteristics of a pipe bomb turned out, on further examination, to be a collection of harmless materials."
In an alert posted on the MIT website, the university announced that the area was safe to reenter and thanked responding federal, state and local agencies for investigating the incident.
The campus is currently home to a relatively small fraction of students as the university celebrated its 2011 graduation last week.