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AFP/File Photo

Fri - 16 Oct 2020 - 11:55 PM ،،،

 Hadramout's Seiyun Palace, now a museum, one of the world's largest mud-brick structures, has become the war-torn country's latest heritage site facing the risk of collapse as heavy rains and years of neglect take their toll, AFP reported on Friday.

The deterioration of the bright white building, reminiscent of a giant sandcastle with rounded turrets on its corners, reflects Yemen's downward spiral since 2014, when Iran-backed Houthi rebels began battling the government.

The building has fallen into disrepair, making it vulnerable to floods that have hit the country in recent months.

The floods have killed scores of people and damaged UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites including high-rise mud-brick "skyscrapers" further west in Shibam.

The Seiyun Palace, once home to the sultan of the Kathiris who ruled much of the region from the 1500s until the 20th century, opened its doors to the public in 1984.

Hussein Aidarous, head of the department of antiquities and museums in Hadramawt, said that even though the palace had sustained a lot of damage, it remained one of the few of its kind still standing.

It shut after the war broke out but partially reopened last year, receiving a steady stream of visitors, museum officials said. 

Director Said Baychout said that most prized possessions are stashed away, for fear that one of Yemen's warring groups could target them.

"The museum was closed at the start of the conflict, when Al-Qaeda entered Hadramout, and artefacts were hidden, over fears of looting, pillaging and damage," Baychout told AFP.

"Until now, the important and rare artifacts are hidden in secret places."