Page last updated at 12:26 GMT, Friday, 30 January 2009

South American skyscraper on hold

By Gideon Long
BBC News, Santiago

A building of the "Costanera Center" project is reflected on another building in Santiago, on January 29, 2009
The building was due to open in 2010 at a cost of $600m (420m)

A plan to build the tallest skyscraper in South America has been put on hold because of the global financial crisis.

Work has already begun on the tower in the financial district of the Chilean capital Santiago.

But the company behind the project says there is no point in carrying on in the current economic climate.

The Torre Gran Costanera was supposed to be 72 storeys high - the tallest on the continent and one of the biggest anywhere in the southern hemisphere.

But it has been abandoned with just 22 storeys built. It is nothing more than a concrete shell covered in scaffolding.

Its owners, the Chilean retail group Cencosud, fear that if they finish the planned 300m (985ft) tower on time they won't be able to rent the office space and the shops because of the downturn.

So they want to wait a while until the world economy recovers.

Around 700 construction workers have been made redundant, and unions say that the decision will cost around 2,000 jobs in total.

Workers gathered in front of the building to express their anger.

Chile is one of the richest countries in Latin America and is in a relatively good position to weather the slowdown.

But this announcement shows that even here, the financial turmoil afflicting the world is starting to bite.

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