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Liberty Island declared secure after call-in threat to blow up Statue of Liberty prompts evacuation

Liberty Island has been evacuated.

Liberty Island has been evacuated. Credit: John Asbury

Liberty Island was declared secure Friday afternoon -- about four hours after an anonymous 911 caller threatened to blow up the Statue of Liberty, forcing visitors to evacuate and emergency responders to swarm in.

The scare sent several thousand people onto ferries to Manhattan, some with their belongings still in lockers, while federal and local authorities tried to track down possible threats in the national park.

The "all clear" came about 3 p.m., said the NYPD, which sent its bomb squad, harbor units and emergency services to help investigate.

The 911 caller had threatened to blow up Lady Liberty, and the National Park Service put all visitors and employees onto ferries shortly after being alerted about 11 a.m., said Mindi Rambo, a Park Service spokeswoman.

At one point, two park police dogs alerted their handlers that they sniffed something near lockers at the base of the statue, she said. Police later determined there was no bomb, she said.

About 2,700 passengers were taken off the island by Statue Cruises ferries, many of them having left their belongings behind at the park, said Mike Burke, the company's chief operating officer.

"All were offered full refunds," he said. "We are working with NPS to reunite passengers with their belongings left behind."

John Blount, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, was in the statue's crown, chatting with a park ranger. "All of a sudden he got a call on his phone," Blount said. "He said, 'OK', looked up and said, 'It's time to leave.' We had just made it up there."

He said it was a very calm evacuation down. They got on a boat, and "we were just floating around out there for the past hour and a half."

Ferries headed part way out to the park and Ellis Island had to return to the terminal, where passengers waited in long lines to receive refunds.

With John Asbury, AP

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