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March 1, 2009

Lightning hits Singapore’s iconic Merlion
Singapore's iconic Merlion statue, a popular tourist attraction, was damaged by lightning on 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).

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