'Spiderman' scales iconic Cuban hotel

Havana, Feb 5 (IANS/RIA Novosti) French climber Alain Robert, popularly known as "Spiderman", took his climbing career to new heights when he scaled Cuba's landmark Hotel Havana Libre.

Robert, 50, whose only equipment was a small bag filled with chalk, took less than half an hour to complete a free climb of the 27-storey building of 126 metres.

Around 2,000 tourists and residents gathered on the streets below and watched from the windows of nearby buildings with photo and video cameras.

Two ambulances were waiting outside the hotel, built in 1958.

It is the tallest building in the capital city.

The iconic hotel, originally called the Havana Hilton, served as Cuban leader Fidel Castro's residence after the 1959 revolution.

When Robert reached the top floor, he raised the Cuban flag over his head, and the gesture was warmly welcomed by the cheering crowd.

Cuban authorities sanctioned the attempt, one of the few officially approved ascents in the "Spiderman's" 19-year climbing career.

He has scaled over 120 high-rise structures across the world, including the Empire State Building in New York, a 242-metre skyscraper in the Moskva City financial district and the 182-metre Moscow State University building.

In 2009, he climbed Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers, once the tallest building in the world at 452 metres, after which he was briefly detained by the Malaysian authorities and fined.

--IANS/RIA Novosti

pm/vt

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