FILE - In this March 21, 2015 file photo, a high tide submerges a narrow causeway leading to the Mont Saint-Michel, on France's northern coast. Authorities are evacuating tourists and others from the Mont-Saint-Michel abbey and monument in western France on Sunday April 22, 2018, after a visitor apparently threatened to attack security services. (AP Photo) FRANCE OUT

Tourists at iconic French abbey evacuated after threat

April 22, 2018 - 5:53 am

PARIS (AP) — French authorities evacuated tourists from the Mont-Saint-Michel abbey and were searching houses Sunday on the famed outcropping in the English Channel for a visitor who apparently threatened to attack security services.

Details of the threat were unclear, but the national gendarme service said authorities ordered the evacuation of one of France's most-visited tourist sites as a precaution.

A police helicopter circled over the peninsula, notably famous for being isolated by high tides, and the surrounding region. A shuttle service official told The Associated Press that large crowds are being evacuated or turned away but the mood is calm.

The abbey, whose origins date to the 10th century, and surrounding sites attract several thousand tourists every day, year-round.

There was contradictory information about the circumstances of the threat. An official with the national gendarme service said the man made the threat Sunday on one of the shuttles serving the site.

The head of the regional administration, Jean-Marc Sabathe, told broadcaster Francetvinfo that the man made the threat when he was trying to stage a street performance and got in an argument with a cafe worker. He said the man was caught on video surveillance cameras.

"I am ordering house-by-house searches to verify if the individual is still on Mont-Saint-Michel. It's possible that the individual left the Mont with the flux of tourists," Sabathe said.

Hotels on the Mont were being evacuated, but its few permanent residents were being told to stay indoors, the site's administrator, Xavier Bailly, told broadcaster France-Bleu from his home.

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