PARIS Hundreds of tourists were evacuated from the Eiffel Tower on Friday afternoon in response to a bomb alert, but it was found to be a scare and the Paris landmark reopened two hours later, police told Reuters.
Police sent a bomb disposal unit to inspect the monument after an anonymous phone call triggered the alert around 2 p.m. (1200 GMT), but the team found nothing suspicious and the tower was reopened, a police official said.
Visitors at the top had to take lifts and then some 700 steps to reach the ground and diners at the high-priced Jules Verne restaurant on the second floor, about half-way up, were forced to abandon half-eaten lunches and head for the stairs.
Western countries are on high alert since the U.S. State Department issued a global travel warning to American citizens last week and closed several of its embassies over unspecified security concerns.
France has already been on high alert for the past few months after its military intervention in Mali prompted threats against French interests from the North African wing of al Qaeda.
Built in 1889, the 324-metre-high (1,062-foot) iron Eiffel tower sees some 7 million visitors each year and up to 30,000 a day in the peak summer season.
The tower is regularly subject to bomb scares but the threats only cause full evacuations a couple of times a year.
(Reporting by Natalie Huet; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)