Breaking News: Liverpool city centre 'bomb scare' sparks evacuations as cops negotiate with man 'holding suspect package'
Police have sieged an office block in Liverpool city centre where negotiators are seeking "direct contact" with a man who claimed to have a "suspect package".
Officers said workers in Silkhouse Court, a 14-storey office block, activated the fire alarm and chose to evacuate the building at around 10.30am.
An ordinarily busy area in and around Tithebarn Street has been cordoned off after police said the man was found "acting suspiciously" in the building.
Specialist officers are now negotiating with the man - reported to be white and middle-aged - inside the block.
A bomb disposal unit has arrived at the scene.
Armed police have also entered a building opposite Silkhouse Court.
A boat insurance company is believed to be at the centre of the scare.
Groves, John & Westrup, trading as GJW Insurance, is based inside the Silkhouse Court building.
The maritime insurance firm dates back to 1826 and describes itself as one of the largest UK boat insurers.
Initially, Merseyside Police closed Tithebarn Street at its junction with Old Hall Street and also at Exchange Street East and Bixteth Street.
Officers said it was sparked by "the activation of a fire alarm" at Silkhouse Court.
Other buildings nearby were reportedly evacuated, too.
The cordon was later extended on Tithebarn Street to its junctions with Chapel Street, Bixteth Street and Exchange Street East. It has since been extended again to its junction with Pall Mall.
A full investigation into the circumstances is now under way and a crew from Merseyside Fire and Rescue is also at the scene.
The police helicopter is overhead and police dogs are at the scene.The alarm is believed to have been activated on the fifth floor of Silkhouse Court.
On social media, people mentioned unconfirmed reports of a bomb threat or "hoax", reports the Liverpool Echo.
Liverpool law firm MSB Solicitors are among the businesses affected by the Tithebarn Street closure.
Following the evacuation, the company tweeted: “Apologies to all clients bomb scare on 5th floor of our silkhouse court office so building evacuated.”
An office worker told the Echo: "I went out for a piece of toast. Now the street's been closed off and police won't let me back in."
Merseyrail stations were not affected but were following police guidance and monitoring the situation.A Merseyside Police spokesman said: "Merseyside Police is dealing with a security alert at a business premises in Silkhouse Court, Tithebarn Street, Liverpool.
"Officers were called to the scene at about 10.30am today following reports of a man acting suspiciously and claiming to be in possession of a suspect package.
"The fire alarm was activated by staff, who evacuated themselves.
"All employees have since been fully accounted for.
"The man is still inside the building and negotiators are seeking direct contact with him, in order to safely resolve the situation.
"No one is injured and a cordon has been put in place as a safety precaution."
"There are a number of road closures in place, they are Tithebarn Street, Old Hall Street at the junction with Union Street.
"Police are advising motorists to avoid the area.
"There is also disruption at Chapel Street, George Street and Exchange Street at the junction of Dale Street."