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The moon over Christ the Redeemer REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

The iconic Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks Rio de Janerio in Brazil has been struck by lightning.

Officials said lightning has apparently broken the tip of the statue's right thumb, Brazilian newspaper O Globo reported.

The 125-ft tall statue, which stands on top of the Corcovado mountain, also had the third finger on its right hand damaged in the lightning strike, which occurred following a storm in the small hours of Friday.

According to the Atmospheric Electricity Group and the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), Rio had 1,109 lightning strikes on the stormy night, about half the record number of 2,149 that streaked across the city in March last year.

Often described as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Christ the Redeemer was constructed between 1922 and 1931. It is made of soapstone and concrete.

The statue, which is a huge tourist attraction, has been exposed to increased lightning activity in recent years. Officials blame it on urbanisation.

"As the city becomes more urbanised, it creates an island of the 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," officials told O Globo.

Every year, on average, the statue is hit by three to five lightning strikes, according to the INPE.

The same finger of the statue has already been struck by another lightning bolt. In a 2008 strike, the statue's head was severely damaged, and some of the outer soapstone layers were replaced.

In 2010, the eroded parts of the statue's face and hands underwent a $4m (£2m) renovation.

The recent damage will cost approximately $1.8m to repair.