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About 100 ceiling panels removed from Harvard MBTA stop after one fell, almost hitting someone

Stairs are cordoned off at the MBTA subway station in Harvard Square in Cambridge on March 2.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Crews have removed about 100 ceiling panels from the Harvard MBTA stop during inspections after one weighing more than 20 pounds fell last week, narrowly missing a patron on the platform, officials said Tuesday.

“The MBTA will be removing all panels on the southbound side at this station in order to do a thorough inspection of the overhead structure,” agency spokesperson Joe Pesaturo said. When that is completed in about a week, engineers will perform a “thorough inspection of the overhead structure,” identify leaks that need sealing, and make any other necessary repairs, he said.

“The MBTA will continue to keep the public informed as the inspection and repair process moves forward,” Pesaturo said.

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On Friday, the MBTA’s interim general manager, Jeff Gonneville, announced that crews are inspecting all such panels across the transit system and will remove them as necessary.

Crews inspected “several stations on the Red Line corridor between Central and Andrew stations during non-service hours” between Friday and Sunday, Pesaturo said.

It is also part of workers’ “daily routine” to visually inspect each station for signs of maintenance needs, he said.

“When a maintenance need or any type of deficiencies are observed, personnel report these issues to the MBTA’s maintenance control center for further evaluation or repair,” Pesaturo said. “These inspections are ongoing.”

Video shows ceiling panel nearly hit person at Harvard MBTA stop
Video shows ceiling panel nearly hit passenger at Harvard MBTA stop. (Video courtesy of MBTA)

Cianna Navarro, the woman almost hit by the panel on March 1, told the Globe Monday that a pair of “ruined” shoes and a bitter taste were the only physical impacts from the terrifying moment when she was nearly struck.

The panel landed at her feet on the platform and created a cloud of black soot and dust that coated her white Converse sneakers.

“As scary as it was, I can acknowledge that it could have been worse,” said Navarro, 21, a Suffolk University student. “At the end of the day, I’m grateful the situation played out how it did because it could have been a lot different.”

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Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.