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Floods close Christ the Redeemer

One of the world’s most popular tourist attractions has been shut indefinitely due to heavy rain which has damaged access roads.

The iconic Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, closed to the public after floods and mudslides blocked roads with trees, rocks and other debris.

The authorities said a team of labourers were working to improve conditions in the Tijuca National Park, where the statue stands on a mountaintop.

They said it could take six months to restore access, but it was hoped the work would be finished sooner.

“We believe visitors will be able to return within one or two months,” Bernardo Issa, director of the Tijuca National Park, said. “We do not have a timeline yet though, this has not been defined.”

A trolley line that carries tourists to the statue was shut down because of the threat of more mudslides.

The statue is a top tourist draw and was named one of the world’s seven new wonders in 2007.

Firefighters said 247 people died in the flooding and slides in and around Rio caused by torrential rains. The flooding prompted authorities to begin demolishing homes built on steep hillsides and evicting residents.

Issa said flooding in 1996 also forced authorities to halt visits to the statue, but the current closure will be the longest on record.

The statue, designed by French sculptor Paul Landowski, was inaugurated in 1931. A privately-sponsored renovation project began last month, which has left the statue surrounded by scaffolding.

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