Would-be looters broke into the Egyptian Museum and damaged at least a dozen antique pieces, including two mummies which were decapitated. A human chain was formed around the museum to protect the artifacts from looters.
The military has since stepped in and secured the facility. However, there is still fear the museum and its artifacts will be damaged.
The ruling National Democratic Party of Egypt's headquarters is located next to the museum. On Friday, protesters torched the building in an anti-governmental demonstration. On Saturday, fire trucks were working to put out the flames, but the building was still burning and releasing black smoke into the air. In a report by The Canadian Press, Head of antiquities for the museum, Zahi Hawass said, "What scares me is that if this building is destroyed, it will fall over the museum."
The Canadian Press reports that looters broke into the museum, ripping off the heads of two mummies and damaging at least 10 other artifacts, before a group of young Egyptians, “some armed with truncheons grabbed off the police,” stepped in to form a human chain to protect the collection.
One of the men forming the human chain, 40-year-old Farid Saad, told the Associated Press, "I'm standing here to defend and to protect our national treasure." Another man guarding the museum, 26-year-old Ahmed Ibrahim, said, the museum “has 5,000 years of our history. If they steal it, we’ll never find it again.”
The Herald Sun is reporting that the Muslim Brotherhood is recruiting members to form Neighborhood Watch committees in Cairo. “We have selected members to form [the] committees, and they will be stationed around the capital trying to protect property," Salah Abdelraouf said.
Hawass said that “they managed to stop them,” before the army with four armored vehicles took control of the building. Hawass also stated that the looters not only damaged the artifacts, but that they also cleared out the gift shop, reports The Canadian Press.
The Egyptian Museum’s most prized exhibit is the King Tutankhamen collection, which includes the pharaoh’s gold death mask. The Canadian Press reports that there is no damage to the collection.
Since the beginning of the mass demonstrations that started five days ago, looting has occurred throughout Cairo. The Herald Sun reports that residents of the al Sabtia neighbourhood chased away looters who raided a large mall. The residents took back the stolen goods and placed them in a local mosque for safekeeping until they can be returned safely.
The incident at the Egyptian Museum has caused other museums and ancient sites to take precautions and step up security, the Canadian Press reports. Karnak Temple, in the southern town of Luxor, is now protected by barriers and tanks are guarding the Luxor museum.