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New York Police give all clear after Statue of Liberty evacuation

Police in New York have given the all clear after evacuating Liberty Island, after a bomb threat at the Statue of Liberty site. The bomb squad, coastguard and other units were dispatched as visitors were ferried away.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) announced on its 1st Precinct Twitter account that Liberty Island had been cleared of civilians on Friday.

Shortly before 3:30 p.m. local time (1930 GMT/UTC), however, the same account was able to provide the all-clear following several hours of precautionary sweeps at the Statue of Liberty.

"There was an evacuation of the island, following a report of a suspect package," a spokesman for the park police said.

According to the Wall Street Journal and NBC television, citing park police, police dogs detected a suspicious scent on a package in a locker area where visitors can store their belongings.

The NYPD said it had harbor units at the scene, along with the National Park Service.

Visitors posted photos and videos online on Twitter showing large crowds being herded towards a ferry landing.

"Please cooperate ladies and gentleman and step quickly through the gap [in the barricades] to the rear of the vessel," people were told over the loudspeakers in a video recorded by a visitor. "There is more seating available up top so please do not stop or hesitate on the gangway."

By 2 p.m. local time (1800 GMT/UTC), visitors were cleared from Liberty Island.

The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France to the people of the United States, was dedicated in 1886. On its base is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. It represents the Roman goddess Libertas; at her feet, there are a broken set of chains.

In 2014, an estimated 4.2 million people visited the Liberty Island site, an increase on recent years perhaps owing to the Statue of Liberty being closed for much of 2013 in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Times Square and Central Park, both much more easily accessible in the center of Manhattan, attract considerably larger visitor numbers each year among New York's landmarks.

msh/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters)