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Posted at 01:00 PM ET, 08/24/2011

Washington Monument cracks after Virginia quake (photos)

The Washington Monument cracks, as seen Aug. 24, caused by the 5.8-magnitude earthquake Aug. 23. (MATT MCCLAIN FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)
The Washington Monument remains temporarily closed in the wake of the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Tuesday. Despite earlier television reports, it did not tilt, either to the right or to the left, depending on your political persuasion. It’s still straight up the middle.

Cracks were found “at the very, very top” of the monument, National Park Service spokesman Bill Line told us. A structural engineering team is on site now and is collecting data and inspecting every inch of the 555-foot, 5 1/8-inch obelisk.

“This may well take all day today” and several more days, Line said.

If you had tickets to go up the monument, you’re out of luck for now. However, all the other memorials on the Mall are open, including the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, which were briefly closed yesterday.

A U.S. Park Police officer stands behind a fence at the Washington Monument on Wednesday. (MATT MCCLAIN FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

The other national parks within the National Capital region, including Rock Creek Park and several battlefields, are open. There were no injuries or damages reported at any of them, Line said.

The Washington Monument weighs 90,854 tons and it normally sways 0.125 of an inch in 30 mph winds. And as any local resident can tell you, lightning strikes it with regularity.

This post has been updated since it was first published.

By  |  01:00 PM ET, 08/24/2011

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