Recent rains may have led to the collapse of a part of minarets in historical Charminar structure in Hyderabad. A large chunk of lime-mortar plaster came crashing down from a minaret of the Charminar on Wednesday night, causing consternation among locals and passersby.

The incident took place at around 11.20 p.m. on Wednesday. , a time when the monument had shut its gates to tourists. No casualties or injuries were reported. Soon after the incident, a video clip of the damaged minaret and resultant debris was shared widely on WhatsApp , Facebook and Twitter.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has taken over the conservation work of the historic monument. The portion which fell off was on the second storey of the south-west minaret.

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The incident forced senior ASI officers of the Hyderabad Circle, including Superintending Archaeologist Milind Kumar Chauley, to cut short an official trip to New Delhi, rush to Hyderabad and take stock of the situation.

Speaking to #KhabarLive, Chauley said that the size of the portion of plaster which gave way is about 2.5 m x 0.8 m. Superintending Archaeologist of the ASI Milind Kumar Chauley said, “Work was in progress to give a uniform colour to the entire monument. Apart from this, minor conservation work was included. The portion which collapsed was old and largely ornamental,” Mr. Chauley said.

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He explained that Charminar is essentially a stone structure. The lime-mortar plaster is a few millimetres above the stone layer.

“The portion which fell off was old and dry. A kilogram of such lime-mortar plaster can absorb four or five kilos of water. The recent rains may be a reason for this plaster collapse. There could be other reasons as well. There are old, protruding portions which have a tendency to crack and fall,” Chauley said. The plaster, he said, was replaced around a 100 years ago by the Asaf Jahi Dynasty for ₹1 lakh.

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Later in the evening, as a safety measure, ASI officials directed staff to erect a scaffolding. Hyderabad City Police Commissioner Anjani Kumar visited Charminar to assess the situation.

An ASI joint director is scheduled to arrive in the city on Friday to inspect the monument and the gauge the extent of damage. Further steps, including whether an inquiry is to be instituted or not, will be decided at a meeting of ASI officials. In 2001, a similar chunk of plaster had fallen off Charminar. #KhabarLive