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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 February, 2004, 18:24 GMT
Metal thieves steal museum train
Ukrainian historic steam locomotive
The train was found at a scrap yard, already cut into pieces

Metal thieves have stolen an historic steam locomotive from an open-air museum in the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

The local police chief told Donetsk's Ukrayina TV channel that the criminals had probably hired a crane from the state transport company using forged documents authorising the locomotive to be moved to a new location.

It was found at a metal scrap yard outside the city, already cut into pieces.

The locomotive was said to be the first ever built in Soviet Ukraine back in 1924, so experts could not put a price tag on it.

But the thieves could have expected to earn about US$3,700 dollars (2,200) from selling the 14.5 tonnes of scrap metal that remained of the locomotive.

Experts doubt that it could ever be put back together.

Metal theft is a serious issue in Ukraine, where statues, wires and even sewage hatches have been stolen for sale as scrap.

Just a week before the latest incident, it was reported that thieves had stolen an 11-metre steel bridge in western Ukraine, cutting a local town off from the outside world.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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