Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More re damage to Wadi Hitan whales

Daily Comet

Egypt Egyptian authorities have accused Belgian diplomats of damaging a 40 million-year-old whale fossil when they allegedly drove over the remains in a protected desert area, an official said Monday. Belgian officials denied any damage was done.

Mohamed Ibrahim, an official in the Ministry of Environment, said the diplomats in four-wheel-drive vehicles ran over the fossil in July after ignoring signs warning visitors not to drive in the Wadi el-Hitan, or Valley of the Whales, protected area and UNESCO World Heritage site located about 93 miles outside of Cairo.

The Belgian Foreign Ministry and its embassy in Cairo denied the vehicles caused any damage to the fossil. Foreign Ministry spokesman Marc Michielsen said the two diplomatic-plated all-terrain vehicles were in the area but "did not leave the road." "They were not aware that the area was a protected area," Michielsen said. "It seems the area was not cordoned off, and no notice or guards were present."

Egyptian and Belgian authorities both said the incident took place in July. It was unclear why Egyptian officials waited until now to make the allegations.
Also on the Egypt Daily Star website.

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