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Insider Insights: Articles

10 major monuments damaged by weather and natural disasters

By Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter
Sunday, January 26, 2014, 7:52 PM

When we reported last week that a Magnitude 6.2 earthquake had struck New Zealand, it garnered a certain amount of attention on our website.

A good chunk of that attention focussed on, of all things, a toppled statue.

Specifically, a hanging likeness of an eagle from the Hobbit films, which toppled to the ground in one of the country's main airports.

As harrowing as that was, at least that sculpture wasn't a timeless national monument - unlike these ten national symbols that were damaged by the elements over the centuries.

Cristo Redentor, Rio de Janeiro

“…and if I’m wrong, may God strike me down!” is NOT a thing you want to say when you’re standing next to Cristo Redentor, the great statue of Christ the Redeemer that towers imposingly above Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s most famous city.

Why? Well, the 30-metre tall statue, being as it is probably the highest point in the city, is in a prime location for lightning strikes.

Earlier this month, a bolt chipped the right thumb, and a December strike damaged the hand also.

It’s such a problem that the statue had to undergo a costly restoration last decade after a bolt damaged the head, and the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro keeps a supply of stone handy for regular weather-related repairs.

Given the statue is hit, on average, six times a year, it’s prime eye candy for shutterbugs with neat cameras, a Flickr account and an awful lot of patience.

Happily for them, the best shots, of course, come when they’re well, WELL away from Cristo Redentor when it assumes its unintended role as a chiseled lightning rod.

Basilica Menore del Santo Nino, Philippines

Aside from wreaking major damage and claiming more than 200 lives, the earthquake that struck the central Philippines in October 2013 also caused the partial collapse of the Basilica Menore del Santo Nino.

The video above shows the bell tower just crumbling beneath the assault of the 7.2-Magnitude quake.

It could have been much worse. 50 people were inside when the shaking began, before quickly being ushered out by security. A passer-by on a motorcycle fell to the ground and was pulled to safety moments before a large slab of debris crushed his bike, according to this source.

At last report, Mass is currently held in the nearby pilgrim centre, due to concerns over the integrity of the mostly-intact remainder of the structure.

Image: Honeplus/Wikimedia Commons

Image: Honeplus/Wikimedia Commons

Sadly, Filipinos are not unused to this national treasure suffering damage. 

Founded in the 1500s by an early Spanish expedition, it is one of the oldest Christian churches in Asia, but the current structure dates from the 1700s.

That’s because the original wooden church burned down – twice. A rebuilding effort in the 1600s was abandoned due to faulty construction materials, before authorities doubled-down a hundred years later to build the stone Basilica today.

On the one hand, that’s lousy luck for such a major part of Philippines history. On the other, Filipinos have had plenty of practice rebuilding it, so it likely won’t stay crumbled for long.

Statue of Liberty, New York City

“Superstorm” Sandy’s impact on New York City must have seemed especially targeted, given how the Statue of Liberty was in the path of some of the storm’s worst effects.

As it happens, the almost 130-year-old copper statue’s iron reinforcement held up fine under the storm’s assault in late October 2012. The statue’s home of Liberty Island, not so much. The storm surge of more than 4 m swamped three quarters of the island, along with almost all of nearby Ellis Island, such that when the storm finally subsided, the islands’ infrastructure was just wrecked.

Piers, water infrastructure, drainage systems, electrical wires, radio communications, almost all of it was gone – just a day after the statue had reopened after a year-long refit beginning in October 2011.

The damage sparked an eight-month, round-the-clock restoration project. Something like 53,000 paving stones were replaced, along with all the infrastructure, an effort whose cost came to around $77 million after overruns.

It reopened on July 4 last year. Hopefully the gods will be kind enough to let this major tourist landmark stay open for a bit longer this time.

NEXT PAGE: Ruined cathedral sparks bitter dispute

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