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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 May, 2005, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Big Ben chimes stoppage mystery
Big Ben
The cause of the stoppage is unknown
One of the world's most famous clocks ground to a halt for more than an hour-and-a-half on Friday, silencing the chimes of Big Ben.

The minute hand on the clock face of St Stephen's Tower at the Palace of Westminster, central London, stopped moving at 2207 BST.

It began moving again slowly but stalled a second time at 2220 BST and remained still for 90 minutes.

The cause of the stoppage is unknown, but the hot weather could be to blame.

Luftwaffe attacks

Temperatures in London on Friday reached 31.8C (90F) and this has been cited as one possible factor for the stoppage.

The clock has only stopped a handful of times since it was completed in 1858.

Snow accumulation on the hands caused it to ring in the New Year 10 minutes late in 1962.

But during the Second World War, despite dozens of attacks by Luftwaffe bombers, the clock kept within one and a half seconds of GMT.

Most recently it stopped on 30 April 1997 - 24 hours before the general election, and then again three weeks later.

Hear how Radio 4 dealt with the missing bongs

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