A collection of copper objects believed to be antiques were unearthed and quickly looted from a construction site in the central city of Da Nang.
The city’s authorities have asked for the return the items found in a garden belonging to a resident named Huynh Phuoc Tuong in Ngu Hanh Son District’s Hoa Hai Ward.
Pham Viet Hong, director of NDN Joint-stock Company said his workers excavated the items on Tuesday while clearing the site of a future beltway project in the district.
News of the discovery sent locals rushing to the site, where they unearthed more.
One worker was caught attempting to sell a standing 61cm Buddha statue for VND50 million.
Local agencies have managed to retrieve some of looted items including a gong, candle holders, censers, and statues of Nghe – a mythical creature.
They also recovered the upper half of a bell whose lower half was discovered by workers. Inscriptions on the bell, which stood one meter high and weighed 70 kilograms, suggested it was cast in 1851.
Tuong believes the objects were entrusted to his grandfather, Huynh Phuoc Dieu, by the chief monk of the 500-year-old Thai Binh Pagoda in the 1940s, when French soldiers launched a brutal assault on the district.
Dieu buried them in his garden, he said, adding that the family had heard about the objects but had been unable to locate them.
When Hong’s company began their clearance work, Tuong asked the director and his crew to be careful, fearing they could possibly damage the items.
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