Holier than thou? Rio's Christ statue has rival

Sao Paulo, Brazil - A little-known Brazilian farming town with sugar cane wealth is set to upstage Rio de Janeiro by erecting a statue of Christ that will eclipse its famous equivalent atop Rio's Corcovado mountain.

The Christ statue in Sertaozinho, northwest of Sao Paulo city, will be 187 feet (57 meters) tall when perched on its 128 foot (39-metre) pedestal, Brazilian daily newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo said on Tuesday.

Rio's iconic statue overlooking the beach-side city measures up at 98.4 feet (30 meters) high, but its much shorter pedestal gives it a total height of just 125 feet (38 meters).

"Far from a pretense of grandeur, we're thinking about visibility," said Nerio Costa, mayor of the town 206 miles (330 kilometres) from Sao Paulo which hopes to inaugurate the 1.5 million reais ($681,000) structure at Easter.

But those suspicious that Sertaozinho, with a population of just over 100,000, is trying to rival the country's top tourist city can cite other evidence.

The agricultural town also boasts a lake-side artificial 160-yard (metre) beach built at a cost of $3.64 million (8 million reais), Folha said.

($ =2.21 reais)