Police arrest contractors who made gaping hole in Great Wall of China ‘looking for shortcut’

File. The Great Wall in China (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
File. The Great Wall in China (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Two people have been arrested for using an excavator to dig a hole in the Great Wall of China causing “irreversible damage” to one of Unesco’s world heritage sites, the state broadcaster CCTV reported on Wednesday.

Local police in Shanxi province in China said in a statement that a 38-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman were accused of digging through the Great Wall in order to create a shortcut for their nearby construction work.

Police said that “a part of the wall of the Great Wall has been severely damaged”.

After the investigation, the police statement said that the suspects – Zheng, 38, and Wang, 55 – used excavators to dig the original opening of the ancient Great Wall into a large gap in order to save distance, “so that excavators could pass through the gap.”

It caused “irreversible damage to the integrity” of the portion of the Great Wall and the “safety of cultural relics”.

Local media said that the police in Yuyou County in Shanxi province apprehended the two suspects after receiving reports of the damage to the Great Wall on 24 August.

The case is currently under investigation, the police said.

It was reported that the damage occurred to a segment of the Great Wall dating back to the Ming dynasty (AD1368-1644), specifically known as the 32nd Great Wall. This section also includes a relatively well-preserved watchtower which is listed as a provincial cultural relic.

“Currently, the two suspects have been criminally detained in accordance with the law, and the case is continuing to be investigated,” CCTV reported.

The massive structure of the Great Wall has suffered from both natural wear and tear, as well as inadequate maintenance over time, according to CGTN.

It says presently, only 8.2 per cent of the Great Wall constructed during the Ming Dynasty remains well preserved and a significant portion, three-quarters of it, is in poor condition, and approximately a third of the structure has even disappeared.

The Great Wall of China – measuring a total of 21,196.18km – begins on the eastern coast and extends to the far western deserts, meandering through 404 towns in 15 provincial regions across northern and central China.