Chile holds 3 tourists for damage to millennium-old geoglyph

EFE

Chilean authorities arrested three unnamed Belgian tourists Friday on suspicion of causing damage to the Atacama Giant, a geoglyph that dates from the 10th century.

The suspects were caught on camera last Sunday while riding in an all-terrain vehicle over the lines that make up the geoglyph, a human figure 119m (390ft) tall carved into the side of Mount Unitas in the Atacama desert, 1,800km (1,100mi) north of Santiago.

The three Belgian nationals were detained Friday at Santiago International Airport as they tried to board a flight for Europe, police inspector Pablo Ibarra told reporters.

"These three people were in a vehicle in which they drove over the feet and the head of the monument, causing damage," he said.

If convicted, the tourists could face fines and jail time, Ibarra said.

Scholars suggest that the Atacama Giant may represent the ancient Andean deity Tunupa-Tarapaca, who, according to legend, traveled from Lake Titicaca to the Pacific Ocean.

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