Bomb Threat Forces Madrid Stadium Evacuation

Spanish authorities evacuated 70,000 people from a soccer stadium Sunday after a bomb threat was phoned in to a Basque (search) newspaper.

The referee halted the Spanish league game between Real Madrid (search) and Real Sociedad with the score 1-1 in the 88th minute and pointed the teams toward the tunnel. An announcement over the public-address system appealed for an orderly evacuation, and the fans appeared to follow instructions.

Santiago Bernabeu Stadium (search) was evacuated 15 minutes before a bomb at the stadium was set to explode, according to a threat phoned to the Basque newspaper Gara. It took about 10 minutes to clear the stadium.

Two hours later, no bomb had been found, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior told The Associated Press.

"Everything now seems to point to a false alarm," the spokesman said.

The city's accident and emergency service, SAMUR, said that it had downgraded its alert, and had not treated anybody for injuries.

Outside the stadium, players such as Luis Figo and Jose Maria "Guti" Gutierrez were seen making telephone calls while the referee and linesmen walked away shrouded in blankets.

Real Sociedad is from San Sebastian, a northern port city considered one of the principal tourist attractions of the Basque Country, which the separatist group ETA wants to see break away from Spain and become an independent nation.

ETA issued similar warnings to Gara before a series of small explosions in Spanish cities in recent days.

This stadium was targeted by ETA on May 1, 2002, when Madrid was to play FC Barcelona in a Champions League semifinal. A car bomb exploded in a street outside the stadium and 17 people were slightly injured.