Eiffel Tower closed for hours after intruder spotted

The Eiffel Tower in Paris was closed to the public in the morning on Sept 20, 2015 following an intrusion by a person with a backpack.
The Eiffel Tower in Paris was closed to the public in the morning on Sept 20, 2015 following an intrusion by a person with a backpack. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - Paris's Eiffel Tower was closed for several hours on Sunday (Sept 20) after an intruder with a backpack was spotted inside the iconic monument before its daily opening hours, officials said.

The tower was reopened at 2.45pm (8.45pm Singapore time) after being closed to the public for the morning, the press department for the tourist attraction said.

Before it opened on Sunday morning, "an individual was seen in the structure with a backpack", a source close to the matter said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "To remove all doubt, a helicopter was sent to carry out an inspection of the structure."

Firefighters were also dispatched to the site, but "found nothing", according to a fire department spokesman.

A policeman at the scene said the intruder might have been an adventurer seeking to parachute off the tower, which is 324m tall - a sight not uncommon in the French capital. In 2005, a Norwegian man died while attempting a similar feat.

The "Iron Lady" attracts around seven million visitors a year, of which nearly nine in 10 are foreign tourists.