Sun, Jan 19, 2014 - Page 7 News List

Lightning takes out Rio’s Christ statue’s thumb tip

INFERNAL FORCE:More than 40,000 lightning bolts over three hours and wind gusts of 87kph whipped up a devastating storm that claimed dozens of lives

AFP, RIO DE JANEIRO and SAO PAOLO

A single bolt of lightning strikes the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Thursday.

Photo: EPA

The iconic statue of Jesus overlooking Rio de Janeiro, one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, has lost a thumb tip to lightning, a report said on Friday.

Christ the Redeemer, the giant monument and Brazilian tourist magnet that looms atop nearby Mount Corcovado, was damaged in a huge storm on Thursday night, O Globo newspaper reported on its Web site.

Standing at 38m — pedestal and all — the statue was named in a 2007 global poll as one of seven new wonders of the world.

Site caretaker Father Osmar Raposo said the giant concrete figure that juts from the Brazilian mountain top about 710m above Rio’s beaches would undergo repair next month.

O Globo broadcast helicopter images of the statue on its G1 Web portal, showing part of Christ’s right thumb missing.

Brazil’s national space institute INPE counted more than 40,000 lightning flashes during the three-hour storm which felled dozens of trees and flooded streets.

Winds gusting at 87kph forced one of Rio’s airports to close and brought a halt to boat trips across the city’s Guanabara Bay.

Meanwhile, the death toll from last weekend’s flash flooding in the southern Brazilian town of Itaoca has risen to 20, with six people still missing, authorities said on Friday.

Sao Paulo state’s Civil Defense Department updated the earlier toll of 12 dead.

It said that 332 people — or about 10 percent of the town’s population — were left homeless by overflowing waters from the Palmital River following torrential downpours.

Four people were injured and about 100 homes damaged.

A bridge providing access to Itaoca, 340km southwest of Sao Paulo, was also destroyed and state authorities pledged to rebuild it.

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