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Engineers inspect Washington Monument for quake damage (VIDEO)

Engineers are rappelling down the sides of the Washington Monument to inspect the national landmark for earthquake damage.

earthquake washington monument 8 24 2011Enlarge
A Parks Police helicopter inspects the Washington Monument shortly after an earthquake struck Washington, DC August 23, 2011. One of the strongest earthquakes to strike the U.S. east coast in decades rattled offices Tuesday in downtown Washington and caused panicked evacuations from skyscrapers as far away as New York. The Pentagon, the US Capitol and Union Station in the nation's capital were all evacuated after the 5.9-magnitude quake, which was shallow with its epicenter only 0.6 miles (one kilometer) underground. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Engineers are checking the Washington Monument for cracks and other damage caused by the earthquake that hit the U.S. East Coast last month.

The Washington Monument is closed indefinitely to visitors because of damage to the national landmark, the Associated Press reports. National Mall and memorial parks officials told a press conference that they hope to have a timetable for repairs in place by mid-October.

Engineers began rappelling down the sides of the monument on Tuesday, shown in live video on TV news networks, NPR says.

The exterior of the obelisk is being inspected, and following that, the monument will be winterized to prevent further damage during cold weather. 

Security camera footage released Monday show tourists scrambling after the 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook the monument's observation deck, the AP says. The monument shook violently for more than three minutes during the Aug. 23 quake. 

The 555-foot-tall monument was completed in 1884, and had never been damaged previously by a natural disaster, the AP says.

The quake centered on the state of Virginia but was felt in Washington, where the Pentagon and Capitol were evacuated, as well as in New York, and reportedly as far afield as Georgia and Toronto.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/110927/washington-monument-closed-earthquake-damage-inspection