10/21/2011 08:33 am ET Updated Jun 28, 2012

China's Great Wall Collapsing Due To Mining

Thanks to an underground network of mines, one of the world's most iconic sites is in danger. A section of the Great Wall of China has collapsed, reports the Xinhua News Agency.

The affected part of the wall, built in stages between 1369 and 1644, is in a remote area of in Hebei Province, about 120 miles from Beijing. A 2,300 foot section of the wall meant to protect ancient China has already fallen.

"This section of the wall is considered 'the crust of the cream' of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall. It is really a pity," Guo Jianyong, a senior engineer with the provincial Ancient Architecture Studies Institute, told Xinhua.

Miners in Laiyuan did not directly knock down the wall. Rather, the mines below are jeopardizing the structure's stability. Some operate within 100 meters, or about 330 feet from the wall.

But, since they have legal permits, there isn't much conservationists can do to protect the World Heritage Site.

"The exploitation of the mineral resources falls under the jurisdiction of the Land Resources Bureau, so if the bureau issues mining permits to the mining companies, they can legally extract the mineral resources within areas designated in the contract," Dong Yaohui, Vice Chairman of the Great Wall Society, told Reuters. "But in this process the Land Resources Bureau does not take into consideration the Great Wall as a factor."

Earlier this month, it was reported that India's famous Taj Mahal is also in danger of collapsing. The Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China are just two of hundreds of monuments on the World Monuments Fund's Watch List, which has been drawing attention to cultural-heritage sites in need of some tender loving care since 1996. The 2012 list, consisting of 67 sites in 41 countries and territories, was also announced earlier this month. Check out the new inductees to Funds' list below. (All photos courtesy of World Monuments Fund unless noted.)