By William Jones, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – During heavy storms across Rio late last week, the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) statue was struck by lightning causing millions of reals worth of damage. The third finger of the right arm of the open armed statue suffered a strike and is due to be repaired.

Christ teh Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Built in 1930 the world famous monument cost approximately US$250,000, today that would roughly be the equivalent of US$3.2 million photo by Lima Andruska/FlickrCreative Commons License.

This was not the first time that the monument depicting Jesus Christ has been affected by the tropical storms. The same hand of the statue was recently struck in the same place and restoration work had already been scheduled for January 21st.

Coordinator for the Atmospheric Electricity Group INPE, Osmar Pinto Júnior, told O Globo that in the last three years the incidence of lightning in the city have increased. In his opinion the increase is a result of urbanization, resulting in more cold fronts colliding with the rains and the heat of city, causing lightning strikes.

“As the city becomes more urbanized, it creates an island of heat, because the vegetation is replaced by asphalt and homes. The increase in the number of cars is also a factor, because it generates more pollution, which contributes to the formation of lightning.”

According to The National Institute for Space Research (INPE), each year the 95 ft tall monument is subjected to by somewhere between three to five strikes of lighting, with some causing damage. It is not uncommon for it to be struck by lightning due to its position at the top of the city, but experts say the damage incurred by the storm poses no threat to visitors hoping to see the icon over the summer period.

Statistics show that during the storm last Thursday 41,393 strikes of lighting hit the state of Rio de Janeiro, of these, 1,109 fell in the state’s city capital. Per year, there are about fifty million lightning strikes in Brazil amid storms.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Update is a feature offered to help keep you up-to-date with major news as it happens.


  1. The structure being struck by lightning so close to the arrestor line makes you wonder whether the grounding of the arrestor array has been checked lately. Proper grounding at the top of a granite mountain, I suspect, is not easily (read: cheaply) achieved.


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