An ancient Mayan temple at a UNESCO World Heritage site in Guatemala has been damaged by tourists who came there for "end of the world" celebrations.
Over 7000 locals and tourists flocked to the area on December 21 to experience what could have been ‘the end of the world’ coinciding with the end of the Mayan calendar, or just another day.
"Sadly, many tourists climbed Temple II and caused damage," AFP quotes Osvaldo Gomez, a technical adviser at the historic site. "We are fine with the celebration, but [the tourists] should be more aware because this is a World Heritage Site," he told local media.
Although the official did not specify what particular damage was done to the ancient temple, he said it was irreparable. The 38 meters tall Temple II is one of the most famous Mayan buildings.
The tourists were attracted by a colorful traditional ceremony held by native Mayan priests as the sun emerged to mark the new era, AFP reports.
Friday December 21, 2012 was the last day of a 5,200 year era, according to the Mayan "Long Count" calendar. Some people who read Mayan hieroglyphs believed the day would be the end of the world.
The ancient stone temple at Tikal is part of the major Mayan archaeological site, 560km north of Guatemala City. The temple was the center of the civilization’s social and political life. It is where Mayans held all their ceremonies and festivities.