Rio’s Christ Chips Finger in Lightning Storm

Jan 18, 2014 4:50pm
EPA lightning strikes christ the redeemer statue 51179501 jt 140118 16x9 608 Rios Christ Chips Finger in Lightning Storm

Lightning strikes the right hand of the statue Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Jan. 16, 2014. Credit: ANTONIO LACERDA/EPA

A vicious lightning strike from the heavens hurt Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue during an electrical storm on Thursday night.

The 125-foot-tall figure that presides over the Brazilian city had its right thumb damaged when a lightning bolt struck its outstretched hand.

Father Omar, of The Archdiocese of Rio, who manages the shrine that holds the statue, said that the icon, which sits atop the 2000-foot Corcovado mountain, is frequently hit by lightning during storms.

The middle finger of the right hand was also chipped by lightning last month.

A lightning rod and other equipment designed “to protect the image,” aren’t always failproof, the priest told the Globo radio station.

“They say lightning does not strike the same spot twice. But with the Christ it does,” the priest said.

“I have already endured the situation of being at the Christ at a time of rain and a lot of lightning, and it is scary. But we have a plan to quickly take all visitors away from there,” Omar said.

Earlier in the month the statue received media attention after the only train to the top of the mountain broke down due to an unidentified mechanical failure. More than 100 people were left stranded at night for more than 2 hours at the tourist attraction before officials sent vans and a second train to bring the visitors down.

The statue, erected in 1931, is set to be refurbished next month, during which time the broken finger and other damage will be fixed using the church’s stockpile of the same stone used to build the statue, Omar said.

In 2010 the statue received a $4 million renovation repair parts of its face and hands that had been badly eroded.

The AP contributed to this report.

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