A trucker intentionally drove his tractor-trailer off a roadway and through the 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines in Peru, causing considerable damage to the protected historic area. Truck driver Jainer Jesús Flores Vigo was arrested and is expected to be charged with damaging the landscape.
The Nazca Lines site is a sprawling series of images located on a coastal plain about 225 miles south of Lima, Peru’s capital city. The images scratched into the surface of the landscape depict animals, plants and other figures. The ancient designs collectively cover 280 square miles. The site is believed to have been created between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D.
The images are almost impossible to decipher from the ground, but are absolutely breathtaking when viewed from the sky. It is believed that they were used for religious and ceremonial gatherings. However, the exact reason for its creation is uncertain. The area has been designated a United Nations World Heritage Site.
The driver reportedly drove his big rig past signs indicating the preserved status of the site and left deep tire marks in three straight-line geoglyphs on the site. According to Argentine newspaper Clarín, the driver said that he wasn’t familiar with the area and only left the road because of a mechanical problem. However, some suspect that he was trying to avoid having to pay a highway toll.
According to local news outlets, the driver was only briefly detained as there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that he acted with intent. However, prosecutors for the public ministry say they will pursue charges. Experts are currently assessing the damage, which has been deemed “repairable”.
The authorities have vowed to increase patrols after this latest incident. A small security booth has been set up to monitor the area, but the booth is only staffed during the day time. Drone technology has already been integrated into the protective measures for the site.
This is not the first time the site has been notably damaged. The Nazca Lines were damaged previously in 2014 in another high-profile episode involving Greenpeace activists who walked on the lines to display a banner. Simply walking on the land without special footwear can leave permanent scarring. The episode sparked international outrage.