Beijing: China has finally begun the renovation work on a heavily-damaged wooden pagoda, believed to be the oldest and tallest of its kind in the world, after a two decade delay.
Restorers plan to reinforce the 958-year-old pagoda in Yingxian County in north China's Shanxi Province, as the tower leans northeast.
Several sections of the pagoda's wood, which has become rotten due to centuries of erosion, will also be repaired, official media here reported.
With a budget of CNY 7 million (USD 1.14 million), the revamp is expected to be completed within 18 months.
The 67-metre-tall pagoda was built with brackets and sockets without nails.
Visitors have been prevented from climbing to the second floor of the five-tier tower due to its poor condition, state- run Xinhua news agency reported.
While experts have long been concerned that the tower is on the brink of collapse, its restoration plan was only approved by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage this year.
Originally initiated in 1989, the plan was subject to lengthy reviews under professionals and authorities over the past several years.
There has been no meaningful action taken because of financial issues, practical difficulties as well as concerns on how alterations may be read by UNESCO.
In 2012, the structure was put on a tentative list of sites applying for UNESCO World Heritage status.
Shanxi provincial authorities feared the revamp will destroy its "originality," a criteria in applying for the World Heritage status.