February 28, 2009 / 3:33 PM / 11 years ago

Singapore's iconic Merlion damaged by lightning

The Marina Bay Sands casino construction site is seen from the Merlion Park in Singapore May 1, 2008. REUTERS/Tim Chong

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore’s iconic Merlion statue, a popular tourist attraction, was damaged by lightning Saturday afternoon during a thunderstorm, government radio reported. No one was hurt.

News radio station 938Live said the Merlion was struck by lightning between 4 and 5 pm local (0800-0900 GMT), causing parts of the statue to fall near a group of startled visitors.

The 8.6 metre-tall Merlion has the head of a lion and the body and tail of a fish, and sits at the mouth of the Singapore River near the central business district.

The lion head symbolises Singapore’s founding by an Indonesian prince who named his new settlement after a lion he saw when he landed on the island. The body of the fish represents Singapore’s origins as a fishing village.

Singapore, or “Singapura,” is derived from the Sanskrit words Singa (or Lion) and Pura (City).

Singapore’s police could not be reached for comment while a spokeswoman for Singapore’s information ministry said she did not have any details about the incident.

Reporting by Kevin Lim; Editing by Jon Boyle

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