Works underway to consolidate central tower of Cambodia's famed Angkor Wat

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Cambodia's Apsara National Authority (ANA) said Thursday it has been working to consolidate the central tower of Cambodia's famed Angkor Wat, which is also known as the Bakan tower.

Hourn Sokcheat, technical officer of the ANA's department of conservation of monuments and preventive archaeology, said some stones in the Bakan tower had eroded and slid off their original locations at the edges due to age, water infiltration and plants' roots.

"These have caused the laterite in the interior of the tower to erode, so the whole weight pressed on the sandstones, and the outer layer broke and slid out," he said in an ANA news release.

Kheam Mony, head of the Bakan tower restoration project, said the restoration team has been consolidating the southwest corner since November 2021 and the work was scheduled to complete by April 2022.

The Bakan tower had been restored once in the 1930s, the ANA said in the news release.

Located in northwestern Siem Reap province, the 400 sq km Angkor Archeological Park, inscribed on the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1992, is the kingdom's most popular tourist destination.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the site received up to 2.2 million international tourists in 2019, earning a gross revenue of 99 million U.S. dollars from ticket sales.

The ancient site welcomed only 9,488 foreign visitors in the first eleven months of 2021, down 97 percent year-on-year, the Angkor Enterprise said, adding that it earned gross revenue of 385,700 dollars from ticket sales during the January-November period last year, down 98 percent year-on-year. 

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