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Unknown man climbs 300 m up Eiffel Tower, forces evacuation

Monday, May 20th 2019, 4:30 pm - Dozens of tourists were trapped on the landmark's observation decks.

The famous Eiffel Tower was under lockdown on Monday after a man was spotted scaling the side of the structure.

Tourists were trapped on the observation decks and other parts of the landmark tower were evacuated after the man was discovered climbing the outside of the tower. One visitor told CNN the lockdown began at 2:15 p.m., local time, and she was still stuck on the tower's top floor hours later.

"The Eiffel Tower has been closed and is in the process of being evacuated because a person is scaling it," a spokeswoman for the landmark told media earlier in the day. An official with the company that operates the attraction told AFP news it was "standard procedure" for this kind of occurrence.

The climber was first noticed by people waiting in line for the elevators, according to media reports.

Images from the scene showed the climber braced between two beams just below the top observation deck. The tower stands 324 metres tall; the top-most observation deck is 276 metres above the ground. According to the BBC, the man was taken into custody after reaching the top of the tower, having spent more than six hours clinging to the side of the structure.

An Eiffel Tower spokeswoman told Reuters: "The man entered the tower normally and started to climb once he was on the second floor."

While the weather in the city was fair Monday afternoon, showers and thunderstorms were reported southwest of Paris. The tower -- which is almost entirely made of iron -- is struck by lightning about 10 times per year.

The tower celebrated its 130th-anniversary last week.

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