Washington Monument has extensive cracks from quake

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The earthquake-damaged Washington Monument has extensive cracking and chipped stones near its peak that make it highly vulnerable to rainfall, and inspectors found cracks and loose stones along the entire length of the 555-foot structure, according to a report released Thursday by the National Park Service.

The report was prepared by the engineering firm whose employees rappelled down the sides of the monument in September to inspect the damage. It offers the most detailed portrait yet of damage to the 127-year-old monument, which has been closed to visitors since a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the nation's capital Aug. 23.

The report does not estimate how long repairs will take or how much they will cost. The federal spending bill approved last week allocates $7.5 million to fix the monument, with the understanding that the park service would raise an equal amount through private donations.

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