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16 rescued from elevator in Washington Monument

Friday - 7/1/2011, 1:17pm  ET

People stand in line at the Washington Monument. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

WASHINGTON - Early morning visitors to the Washington Monument were forced to wait in line for several hours after the elevator stalled Thursday evening, trapping 16 people inside.

National Park Service spokesman Bill Line tells WTOP the elevator was in motion when a key used by Park Service Rangers to operate it broke. A computer system then automatically took over operation of the elevator and slowed the cab down.

D.C. fire department spokesman Pete Piringer says the 16 passengers were stuck about 500 feet above ground after the problem occurred. Rescue workers managed to bring the elevator to the ground floor, but about two dozen visitors at the top of the monument had to walk down.

No injuries were reported.

Friday morning visitors were told repairs were under way and that free tickets would not be handed out until everything was fixed.

The ticket office reopened just before 10 a.m.

Piringer says firefighters make about 12 to 15 elevator rescues each day around the city. Line says as many as 2,000 people ride the monument elevator on a busy day.

WTOP's Michelle Basch contributed to this report.

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(Copyright 2011 WTOP and the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)