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Bomb scare at Boston South Station empties terminal

(The following article by Adam Jadhav was posted on the Boston Globe website on July 29.)

BOSTON -- It was only a tape recorder, but the ticking noise coming from a bag at South Station yesterday sounded like a bomb.

As many as 1,000 commuters were stuck -- some evacuated to sidewalks, others sitting on halted inbound trains, as the MBTA Explosive Detection Unit used a robot to X-ray the piece of luggage before lunch time.

The false alarm was one of several recent scares since the bombings in London earlier this month that killed more than 50 people.

''This is the state of the world," said John Martino, deputy chief of police for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

The terrorism alert remains high for mass transit systems nationwide following the July 7 bombings in London. Martino said the MBTA has seen a spike in reports of suspicious or abandoned packages -- about 50 in the last few weeks. Though the reports turned up nothing, authorities from the T and other agencies are preaching vigilance.

Police dogs in Londonderry, N.H., sniffed through the luggage of passengers on a commuter bus headed for Boston yesterday. Police said there was no specific threat; officers were conducting a random search. Similarly, the Coast Guard searched and escorted public boats and ferries Wednesday, said spokeswoman Lisa Hennings.

In the South Station incident, a New Zealand couple arrived in a taxi separately from their bags. When they found their bags near the Amtrak terminal shortly before 11 a.m., the woman heard her luggage ticking.

The source: a cassette player that had reached the end its tape but hadn't shut off.

Friday, July 29, 2005

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