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Taj Mahal minarets damaged in powerful storm

LUCKNOW, India -- A powerful storm toppled two minarets at the entry gates of the famed Taj Mahal in northern India. Bhubanesh Kumar, an official of the Archaeological Survey of India, said winds during the storm Wednesday night reached 130 kilometers -- 80 miles -- per hour.

One of the damaged minarets was a 3-meter (12-foot) pillar at the main gate. The other was a smaller pillar at the southern gate used by visitors to reach the monument. 

Kumar said the damage was minor and will be repaired by experts. No damage was done to the white marble main building.    

The 17th century Taj Mahal, located in Agra, south of New Delhi, attracts between 7 million and 8 million visitors a year. It was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

The monument's complex structure of white marble domes and minarets is considered the finest example of Mughal art in India, but it has suffered damage in recent years due to pollution and construction. The Archaeological Survey of India said earlier this year the Taj Mahal was at risk of losing its sheen and structure due to heightened pollution levels in Agra, the BBC reports.

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People gather around base of the Royal Gate entrance at the Taj Mahal complex next to a fallen pillar that collapsed during a storm in Agra on April 12, 2018. AFP/Getty Images
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