Eiffel Tower evacuated after 9/11 attack threat

22nd July 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 21 (AFP) - French authorities rushed thousands of tourists out of the Eiffel Tower Wednesday after receiving a warning that a plane was about to crash into the famous Paris landmark, police and the tower's management said.

PARIS, July 21 (AFP) - French authorities rushed thousands of tourists out of the Eiffel Tower Wednesday after receiving a warning that a plane was about to crash into the famous Paris landmark, police and the tower's management said.

Around 4,000 people were evacuated from the 324-metre (1,070-foot) structure, which was closed for two hours before police ascertained that the threat was a hoax and it was re-opened.

The company managing the tower, SNTE, said in a statement it had received "an anonymous message" which triggered the alert.

It refused to elaborate on the threat, but a police source said a caller had spoken of a plane about to hit the Eiffel Tower in an attack reminiscent of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York's World Trade Centre.

A careful verification showed the threat was a hoax, but only after authorities emptied the nearly full tower as a precautionary measure - a procedure that took 40 minutes to complete.

The last time the structure was evacuated was nearly exactly a year ago, on July 22, 2003, when a small fire broke out at the top, in a zone reserved for broadcast transmission equipment.

French officials are particularly sensitive to threats to the Eiffel Tower and other symbolic landmarks.

In 1994, a group of four Algerian Islamic extremists hijacked an Air France flight heading to Paris. French commandos stormed the aircraft during a refuelling stop in Marseille after authorities learnt that the men planned to crash it into the Eiffel Tower.

Wednesday's incident occurred at the height of the tourist season in France, which is the world's most visited country.

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

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