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Big Ben's bongs to fall silent for months, or years, as clock and tower undergo urgent repair

FILE- In this file photo dated  Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, workers abseil outside the clock face as they clean Big Ben's clock tower of the Houses of Parliament in London.  According to reports published Sunday Oct. 18, 2015, the chimes of Big Ben may fall silent for many months as urgent repairs are carried out to the clock and the tower, which  must begin as soon as possible.(AP Photo/Sang Tan, FILE)

FILE- In this file photo dated Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, workers abseil outside the clock face as they clean Big Ben's clock tower of the Houses of Parliament in London. According to reports published Sunday Oct. 18, 2015, the chimes of Big Ben may fall silent for many months as urgent repairs are carried out to the clock and the tower, which must begin as soon as possible.(AP Photo/Sang Tan, FILE)  (The Associated Press)

Big Ben's bongs may fall silent for months or even years as urgent repairs are carried out.

Two of Britain's largest newspapers reported Sunday that Parliament's massive clock and the tower that supports it need as much as 40 million pounds (61.7 billion) in repairs — work that will silence the famous bell, Big Ben.

The Sunday Times, citing a Westminster source, says the clock is so dilapidated it may grind to a halt. The Mail on Sunday suggested the clock's hands could fall off without urgent action.

The Times says repairs to the Elizabeth Tower must begin as soon as possible and can't wait for the 7 billion pound ($10.8 billion) restoration of the entire Palace of Westminster that is scheduled to begin at the end of the decade.