China leaning tower 'stable at present': report

An ancient Chinese tower tilting at a perilous angle has earned comparisons with Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa and worried a school in its shadow, state media reported Thursday.

The Wanshou Temple Tower in the central city of Xi'an, which dates from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), began to lean dramatically after a heavy rainstorm in May 2011, state-run China Radio National said.

Local authorities erected a steel frame to support the tower, which looms over the school athletics field. The report said school administrators were concerned because "strong winds or heavy rains could exacerbate the problem".

School officials have asked authorities for assistance, the report said, although a local government official said the tower was stable at present and did not show any sign of further tilting.

"Everyone's heard of the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City. But who knew that China had its very own Leaning Tower?" the report said.

A member of staff at Xi'an's cultural relics bureau, who asked not to be named, told AFP her office was working on a plan to reinforce the tower, but that "we have a lot to do... and need to cooperate with other departments".

The building faces stiff competition for the title of China's leaning tower. A slanting structure in Sichuan province and a 900-year-old pagoda in Shanghai, which leans at a steeper angle than the Tower of Pisa, also claim the honour.