Earthquake Damage Closes Washington Monument Indefinitely

Tuesday, 27 Sep 2011 09:51 AM

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The Washington Monument is being closed indefinitely because it sustained more damage than previously known when a 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck the area last month.

In addition to cracks in the stone blocks and damage to mortar, the monument’s elevator was damaged and can only ascend about half-way up the structure, The Washington Post reported.

The National Park Service released a security video that shows the structure shaking, debris falling, and visitors rushing to safety. No one was hurt in the incident. A team of engineers will now conduct a block-by-block inspection of the exterior by rappelling down the side of the monument, the Post reported.

Story continues below the newly released video, which shows tourists scrambling down the monument steps as debris falls during the earthquake.




National Mall Superintendent Bob Vogel said the worst damage happened to the pyramid-shaped top of the structure. Cracks up to 1.25 inches wide were found in the mortar and stone.

“Daylight is visible at a number of the vertical joints where mortar is missing,” the Post quotes him as saying.

The exterior inspection, in which engineers will climb out of windows near the top of the monument, will examine each block of stone and compare them to descriptions made during the 1999 rehabilitation of the structure. The Park Service has spent $200,000 on the project so far, and it is not known how much the repairs might cost, the Post reported.

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