As the revolt against despot leader Hosni Mubarak continues, Egypt’s priceless antiquities were in danger of being lost or stolen as museums and ancient tombs are looted.
Thieves reportedly took advantage of the political vacuum and chaos by ransacking the House of the Temple of Osiris, among other sites.
One horrified temple worker told The Sun newspaper: “It started when a villager came down from pyramids shouting, ‘I’ve found treasure – I’m rich!’
“Within hours thieves were swarming over the site, digging and smashing their way into tombs with picks and shovels.
“There was nothing we could do to stop them.”
The tombs of the pharaohs Neferefre and Sahure, which are among the oldest in Egypt dating back to 2475 BC, were among the worst affected.
The army arrived and dispersed looters by firing shots but Archaeologists inspecting the said the cost was “impossible to calculate”.
Egypt’s archaeological sites, monuments and museums were under the protection of the country’s army according to the nation’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.
However artefacts such as mummies and jewellery were reporteldy from Cairo’s world-famous Egyptian National Museum when a mob of looters gained access via a fire escape.
Antiquities and artefacts were also smashed.
Special forces troops guarded the museum overnight.