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Chile cops recover stolen glacier ice

world Updated: Jan 31, 2012 09:58 IST

AFP
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Police on Monday were investigating a criminal gang that allegedly stole blocks of ice from the Jorge Montt Glacier in southern Chile.

Agents with Chile's National Forest Service (CONAF) filed a legal complaint claiming that ice was being stolen from the glacier, located in the Chilean Patagonia region some 1,700 kilometers (1,056 miles) south of Santiago.

Police in the southern city of Cochrane then swooped in on a truck loaded with five tons of ice and arrested the driver, the daily El Mercurio reported on its online edition.

The driver was arrested on charges of theft, but could also face charges of crimes against cultural heritage, said Cochrane prosecutor Jose Moris.

Police, who put the value of the stolen ice at $6,200, are on the lookout for the driver's accomplices.

The 454-square-kilometer (175 sq mi) Jorge Montt glacier is melting at a rate of a kilometer (0.6 miles) per year, making it one of the world's most visible milestones of global warming, researchers said in December.

The withering glacier is part of the 13,000-square-kilometer (5,020 square mile) Southern Ice Field, the third largest frozen landmass after Antarctica and Greenland, shared by Chile and Argentina.