Wednesday 7 December 2016

Statue reopening after bomb threat

Published 25/04/2015 | 08:36

An NYPD helicopter flies over the Statue of Liberty in New York (AP)
An NYPD helicopter flies over the Statue of Liberty in New York (AP)
A coastguard boat patrols the waters surrounding the Statue of Liberty after it was evacuated yesterday (AP)

The Statue of Liberty is set to reopen today after thousands of tourists were evacuated yesterday when a bomb threat was made by an anonymous caller.

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A thorough sweep of the landmark by investigators turned up no explosives.

The caller made the threat late yesterday morning, "stating they were going to blow up the Statue of Liberty," the National Park Service said in a statement.

Federal police, including two canine units, investigated and the dogs found "an area of interest" in a locker area at the statue's base, the agency said.

Law enforcement then decided to evacuate the island as a precaution.

Nothing harmful was found in the lockers, according to New York Police Department spokesman Steve Davis.

The NYPD bomb squad and federal authorities continued sweeping the area for much of yesterday afternoon as a precaution, he added.

Statue Cruises, which operates the ferries that carry tourists to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, said it safely evacuated 2,700 people from the island. It offered them refunds and help getting back any items left behind.

Eric Gustafson, of Worchester, Massachusetts, was on Liberty Island with his wife and son.

They were about to enter the building for the tour when park rangers ushered everyone to the flagpole and then told them they had to leave.

"They didn't give us a reason for it. The communication was lacking," he said. About 90 minutes later, they were back in Manhattan.

They later saw Twitter accounts about a suspicious package.

"We weren't nervous. It was mostly just frustrating," Mr Gustafson said, adding that the evacuation was very orderly.

Other tourists said they were taken off boats while trying to leave nearby Ellis Island, and those vessels then were used to evacuate Liberty Island.

Karen Mason, 68, of Cincinnati, Ohio, said they had just boarded a boat at Ellis Island when "all of a sudden, they said, 'Disembark, disembark, disembark. We have to evacuate the boat.'"

She said she did not feel like she was in any danger. "But we saw helicopters and we knew something was going on," she added.

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