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Chinese construction workers accused of plowing a hole through the Great Wall

Chinese authorities released this image of damage done to the Great Wall in Shanxi province.
Youyu County Public Security Bureau
Chinese authorities released this image of damage done to the Great Wall in Shanxi province.

Two Chinese construction workers looking for a shortcut last month destroyed part of the country's Great Wall by driving heavy machinery through it, authorities say.

A 38-year-old man named Zheng and a 55-year-old woman named Wang caused "irreversible damage" when they used an excavator to widen a gap in the wall on Aug. 24, according to a press release from the Youyu County Public Security Bureau.

Police who conducted a search at the site in northern China's Shanxi province located the workers in a nearby county and detained them.

The pair, who were apparently working on a local construction project, have been charged with destroying a cultural relic, China Daily reported.

Authorities say the workers damaged part of the 32nd Great Wall, which dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).

The Great Wall is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its historical and architectural significance, and the Chinese government has imposed rules to protect it.

But the aging structure that stretches for about 12,000 miles across China has deteriorated over the centuries — with Chinese officials estimating that nearly a third of the Great Wall has crumbled — and has been the target of thieves.

Tourists have also defaced the popular attraction, prompting Chinese officials to crack down on vandalism at the site in recent years.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joe Hernandez
[Copyright 2024 NPR]