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Checks of Washington Monument quake damage completed

Civil engineers continue their work on the Washington Monument in Washington
Civil engineers continue their work on the Washington Monument in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The National Park Service and engineers have completed an assessment of earthquake damage to the now-closed Washington Monument, the agency said.

The service and an engineering team that rappelled the 555-foot-high obelisk wrapped up their checks on Wednesday, the National Park Service (NPS) said.

There is no schedule for reopening the site. The NPS has said the monument is structurally sound.

"The NPS is committed to restoring and reopening the Monument as quickly as possible in a manner that will make it safe for visitors," it said in a statement.

The monument sustained cracks more than an inch wide during the 5.8-magnitude temblor on August 23. Heavy rain from Hurricane Irene in late August worsened the damage.

The engineering team from Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates removed broken pieces that "ranged from golf-ball size to dictionary size," the statement said.

Some of the larger pieces could be pinned back on the monument during repairs.

Wiss, Janney, Elstner will ready a report on the damage and what repairs are needed and then carry out interim repairs. The NPS will determine how permanent repairs will be done.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst)