The 5.8 earthquake that rumbled through Washington on Tuesday didn't leave the city unscathed. Instead, it went straight for some of its most-loved treasures: the Washington Monument and National Cathedral.
More damage was found inside the Washington Monument Wednesday, including a four-foot-long fissure in the triangular-shaped cap at the top.
Five U.S. Park Service police photos released late Wednesday show a block that appears dislodged in the top of the monument and debris is scattered on the stairs and observation deck where millions of visitors can view the Capitol, Pentagon, White House and Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Post reported.
Initially, the monument was closed right after the earthquake struck at 1:51 p.m. EDT Tuesday. Now, the monument is closed indefinitely.
We have to let the structural engineers do their job. That may take a week to 10 days, said parks spokesman Bill Line. It may take a week or two after that point for them to pull things together and write a report that documents the amount of damage done, and to make recommendations. The Park Service will have to evaluate that.
Three of four spires on the National Cathedral also suffered damage, as the tremors snapped off stones from the ornate structure. The cathedral is an icon of the Gothic style, and is one of the largest cathedrals in the world.
While Line said he knows that visitors to the nation's capital love to view the city from atop the monument -- and that hundreds of thousands of visitors are due this weekend for the dedication of the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial -- he said the service can't take any chances with safety.
It's impossible to say how long repairs will take to complete. Then we'll have to have repairs inspected and certified, said Line. I know we live in this instantaneous world where everything is expected to happen instantly, but we have to be correct.