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Street cleaners erase Banksy rat

A street-cleaning crew inadvertently painted over a stencil of a rat by the world-renowned British graffiti artist Banksy, leaving officials in Australia's second-largest city scrambling to explain the error.

Melbourne's deputy lord mayor, Susan Riley, sent the cleaners to Hosier Lane last week, after residents complained about the dirty condition of the alley, a tourist attraction known for its elaborate street art. In the process, they painted over Banksy's stencil of a parachuting rat. The crew had been instructed to remove all graffiti from unapproved street-art sites.

Banksy stencilled several images in Melbourne during a 2003 visit.