Angkor removed from World Heritage danger list


Angkor removed from World Heritage danger list




Cambodia's temple-studded ancient city of Angkor has been taken off UNESCO's list of threatened World Heritage sites, the organization said Monday, recognizing successful efforts against vandals, land mines and illicit development.

Delegates to the World Heritage conference in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou also lifted danger status from Oman's massive earthen Bahla Fort and Uganda's Rwenzori Mountains National Park, according to a statement posted on the group's Web site.

A 21-member committee debating the status changes on Sunday ``welcomed substantial progress in the three sites, considered sufficient to warrant their removal'' from the list, the statement said.

Thirty-two sites remain listed as threatened, just a fraction of the 788 properties inscribed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's World Heritage List, the statement said. The World Heritage Web site earlier listed 36 sites on the danger list and there was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy.

Angkor was placed on the danger list in 1992, threatened by mines, new construction and trophy hunters who lopped off the heads of statues.

Efforts taken since then by Cambodia and international partners have been effective, UNESCO said.

``The committee noted that the preservation of the site from destruction was reasonably secure and that the restoration activities coordinated by UNESCO since 1993 could be considered a 'success story,''' it said.

The capital of Hindu kings who ruled over large swaths of Southeast Asia, Angkor flourished from the 9th to the 14th centuries. Its stone temples include Cambodia's cultural icon, Angkor Wat, which appears on the country's flag.

Historians have traditionally believed the city was sacked by Siamese invaders in 1431, although recent research points also to an earlier demise attributed to ecological failure and infrastructure breakdown. It lay forgotten, covered by heavy jungle, until a French explorer stumbled on the ruins 141 years ago.

Bahla fort was placed on the danger list in 1988 over concerns of new construction near the site that would harm its integrity. Oman has since improved management of the site and stopped the use of modern materials and construction techniques around it, according to the statement.

Rwenzori, home to mountain gorillas and other rich animal and plant species, was placed on the list in 1999 due to lack of resources and security. Authorities have since regained control of the park from rebel fighters and re-instituted effective management, it said.