In Vietnam province, curious saga of seized stone takes twist

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Authorities in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai Tuesday placed under 24-hour guard a 3.2-ton stone they had seized from a resident suspected of illegally mining it after keeping it in an iron cage for nearly a month.

The stone, whose seizure from Tran Thi Sac of H'bong Commune and safekeeping have become something of a joke grabbing headlines in local media, is being kept at the Chu Se District urban works and environmental hygiene division.

"We have a team guarding it 24/7, so the stone will be safe here," Le Van Minh, head of the division, said, adding it was not safe to keep it at the Chu Se People's Committee office because there was only one guard on duty there.

Nguyen Hong Linh, the committee chairman, said provincial authorities' guidance would be sought and the stone could be used as a public decoration or auctioned off.

He claimed it was worth VND180,000 (US$8.6) per kilogram, meaning it would fetch nearly $26,000.

The Southern Vietnam Geological Union concluded that it was casidol and not a unique or valuable decorative stone.

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