SAN FRANCISCO — Life at OracleWorld returned to normal Thursday following a Wednesday afternoon bomb scare that shut down the conference for several hours.

Conference delegates were well into the third day of the four-day event when they were asked to evacuate the Moscone Convention Center

around 3:00 p.m. PST Wednesday.

“”We received a call about a potential bomb threat,”” a San Francisco Police Department officer told ITBusiness.ca. “”The conference will be shut down for the rest of the day.””

Police estimated that approximately 11,000 people were inside the North and South halls of the Moscone Center at the time of the evacuation. Throngs of attendees could be seen standing around the nearby W Hotel and Marriott waiting for an all-clear to retrieve personal belongings left inside the building. Another 3,000 people had been inside the West hall of the convention center attending the 2003 Seybold technology conference.

Oracle vice-president of international communications Dave Samson said convention centre security had received the bomb threat at approximately 1:30 p.m. PST and informed Oracle executive vice-president Chuck Phillips, who had been holding a press conference, about an hour later. Within the next 60 seconds the decision was made to empty the building, Samson said.

“”He wanted to err on the side of caution and act in everybody’s best interest,”” he said.

Police allowed attendees back into the Moscone Center to retrieve their belongings around 5:00 p.m. PST Wednesday when no bomb was found. The event re-opened Thursday morning with Oracle vice-president Ken Jacob’s rescheduled keynote.

The bomb scare came one day before the two-year anniversary of terrorist attacks on the United States which took place on Sept. 11, 2001. The attacks on the New York World Trade Center and Pentagon that day shut down the Networld + Interop show in Atlanta and temporarily stranded a number of Canadians who were unable to fly home.

Trade show security increased considerably following the Sept. 11 attacks. At events like Comdex Fall in Las Vegas, for example, airport-style metal detectors were erected outside convention centre doors while trained dogs sniffed incoming visitors.

Most of these precautions have since been curtailed, but Oracle did have security staff posted at almost every major hallway in the Moscone Center during its conference.

Samson said Oracle had not requested any additional security in light of the conference’s timing, but he said Oracle had confidence in the Moscone Center staff and the San Francisco Police Department.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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