Italian police are trying to solve the mysterious disappearance of a 3.5 ton statue of a saint which has stood on the seabed off the coast of Calabria since 2007.
Authorities are baffled as to who – or what – could have removed the bronze statue of St Francis of Paola, which stands 7.2ft high and was securely embedded in concrete 95ft beneath the surface of the sea.
The hooded figure, with one arm raised in supplication, is one of several saintly statues which dot the Italian coastline and are meant to protect fishermen and scuba divers.
Police and the Coast Guard are investigating a few theories, including the possibility that the statue was mistakenly snagged by the net of a large fishing boat.
If the crew of the boat were fishing in the area illegally, that would explain why the incident has not been reported.
Police are also investigating reports from the nearby town of Paola that a large statue-like object was seen on the back of a van in the days after its disappearance on Dec 30 or 31, suggesting it may have been stolen to order.