Eiffel Tower bomb threat: why the Paris landmark was evacuated and what happened

The Eiffel Tower was evacuated for several hours on Wednesday (23 September) after police received a call suggesting a bomb had been placed

Thursday, 24th September 2020, 11:51 am
Eiffel Tower bomb threat: why the Paris landmark was evacuated
Eiffel Tower bomb threat: why the Paris landmark was evacuated

What happened?

French police received an anonymous call shortly after midday, in which the monument was “fully” evacuated as a precautionary measure.

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The anonymous caller said a bomb has been placed inside the tower, according to an official with the tower’s management company. An officer at the scene said police found no signs of the alleged bomb.

The police cordoned off an area around the tower, and completed checks in and around it. They declined to provide more details on the anonymous call.

A spokesperson for the Eiffel Tower said: “The tower was evacuated just after midday following instructions from the police.”

“It took around an hour to evacuate everybody. Police are at the scene and we don’t have any other information at this stage."

Paris’s most iconic landmark welcomes more than six million visitors a year. It was closed for three months during a strict lockdown at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but reopened in June.

Fake news

Paris police and spokespeople for the Eiffel Tower have said that claims appearing online that a man had threatened to blow himself up while shouting religious slogans were “fake news.”

This was in response to a French journalist’s claims on Twitter that a man had said “Allahu Akbar” and “threatened to blow everything up.”

Extra security measures

Security measures at the monument were strengthened in 2018 to protect against terror attacks.

The base of the tower has been enclosed with bulletproof glass, measuring 6.5cm thick, and additional security checks were introduced for visitors. The tower is also surrounded by three metre high metal barriers, exactly one hundredth of the height of the tower.

To prevent vehicles from attacking the area surrounding the structure, 420 blocks are placed in front of the glass walls. The new security measures cost nearly £30.1 million.

Past security threats

The Eiffel Tower has been evacuated a number of times because of security threats.

In 2017, a man was arrested by the police after he tried to force his way into the monument, brandishing a knife. The company that runs the tower said that “he was quickly overpowered and arrested” and no one was hurt. The tower was evacuated after the incident.

Paris has been in a state of emergency since the November 2015 terror attacks in the capital that left 130 people dead.

In May 2019, the Eiffel Tower was closed after a man began climbing up it. Photos taken at the scene showed a man scaling the tower high above the city skyline. Emergency personnel climbed the tower in a bid to reach the man.

In 2015, British daredevil James Kingston climbed the landmark, achieving something he described as “one of his life goals.”

He said after the stunt, “We started the climb at 1am, narrowly avoiding the patrolling security – who seemed more like the French army as they were in full camo and had massive guns. We then wormed our way through what seemed like endless CCTV cameras.”