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Bomb scare at Gates speech

A suspicious package forced the evacuation of hundreds of people attending a speech by Bill Gates.

SEATTLE--Hundreds of people were evacuated from a conference center today for more than an hour when a suspicious duffle bag was sighted minutes before Microsoft chairman Bill Gates was scheduled to speak here.

The bag, which authorities believed could have contained a bomb, was seen on the observation deck of the Bell Harbor Conference Center minutes before Gates was to deliver a speech on Microsoft's financial prospects for the coming year. Gates held an impromptu question-and-answer session instead.

About 300 industry analysts and journalists were moved to a Navy aircraft carrier that was in port nearby. They were allowed to return to the center about 1-1/2 hours later, but the status of the package was not immediately known.

Police and company officials said no bomb threat had been received. The Seattle Bomb Squad later determined that the bag contained nothing but soda and food. But law enforcement authorities appeared to be taking no chances with security concerns heightened nationwide after the TWA tragedy and the explosion at the Olympic Games.

All of the top Microsoft officials were assembled today to host the annual meeting with financial analysts.