The suspects had breached the World Heritage site with an excavator, officials said
Two people have been detained for damaging a section of the Great Wall of China, the country’s media reported on Monday, citing the Shanxi Cultural Relics Bureau. Police were initially notified about the incident in Youyu County in late August.
According to officials, a 38-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman were working on a construction project nearby and had used an excavator to widen a gap in the wall in order to create a shortcut to pass through. The suspects had caused “irreversible damage to the integrity” of the UNESCO World Heritage site, officials said.
One of China’s most recognizable national symbols and a popular tourist attraction, the wall equipped with watchtowers spans over 20,000 kilometers across the northern part of the country.
It is believed that its construction started more than 2,000 years ago as a defensive line against nomadic tribes. It has since been rebuilt several times, with the existing sections of the wall mostly dating back to the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).
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According to a 2016 report by the Global Times, just 6,259 kilometers, or less than 10% of the of the Ming-era wall was well-preserved, as the structure had long been crumbling due to both natural and man-made factors.
In Shanxi Province, the wall has been the victim to “rampant” brick theft, especially in the 1970s, when locals dug out the bricks and later used them to build houses and other facilities, the Global Times said.