After a bomb threat endangering New York City’s iconic Statue of Liberty was declared unfounded, officials say that Liberty Island will resume operations on Saturday – a day after patrons were made to evacuate the vicinity.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) cleared the scene at 3.15pm following the examination of a locker thought to contain a suspicious package which turned out to be empty, a law enforcement official stated. Other lockers were also checked as a precautionary measure.
Civilians were made to evacuate the island, with only emergency personnel remaining as well as members of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) provided by the fire department as a safety precaution. Images shared by users of social media show visitors on ramps awaiting ferries to the mainland.
“Our first priority is the safety and well-being of all of our visitors”, said Mike Burke, head of Statue Cruises which operates ferries to and from the island. He said that 2,700 people were safely transported from the island and were given full refunds. Transportation services will continue at 8.30am on Saturday.
According to a report by CNN, park service spokeswoman Mindi Rambo said at approximately 11am, officials at Liberty Island were informed that an unnamed 911 caller threatened to blow up the Statue of Liberty, leading to the evacuation of visitors on the island. She added that US Park canine units “alerted on an area of interest near the lockers at the base”.
Park police subsequently notified the NYPD, which deployed its bomb squad to double-check the parameter. “Following their investigation, it was determined that there was not an explosive device, Rambo said.
On an annual basis, the Statue Of Liberty attracts an estimated 3.5 million visitors, making security a top priority for park officials. Visitors entering Liberty Island are made to pass through rigorous security checks comparable to those seen at airports.
The last time the island was closed to the public was in October 2013 when it closed as a result of a government shut down.
The statue was dedicated as a gift to the United States in 1886 from the people of France commemorating 100 years of Franco-American friendship as well as the 100th anniversary of American independence.