Egypt's antiquities chief says a full inventory of the Egyptian Museum has found that looters escaped with several items during the anti-government unrest, including two gilded wooden statues of Tutankhamun.
The 18-day uprising that forced out President Hosni Mubarak engulfed the areas around the museum, on the edge of Cairo's Tahrir Square. On Jan. 28, looters climbed a fire escape to the museum roof and lowered themselves on ropes from a glass pane ceiling onto the museum's top floor.
Around 70 objects were damaged, but until Sunday's announcement, it was not known whether anything was missing.
Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass said the museum's database department determined 18 objects were gone. Investigators were questioning those already in custody since the break-in last month.
On his website, Hawass said that the police and army are following up on the disappearances with people in custody.
Intruders used ropes to descend from the museums roof and force their way inside from a fire escape, Hawass said Jan. 30. They broke open 14 display cases in the museums Late Period and Tutankhamun exhibits, in search of gold. Finding none, they shattered statures, including one of the ancient goddess Isis, and smashed some of the museums royal mummies, he said.
Founded in 1858 by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette, the museum contains more than 100,000 Egyptian artefacts, including the world renowned -- and reputedly cursed -- treasures from King Tutankhamun's tomb.
The best known artifact is the teenage monarch's gold funerary mask, which stares out from a case on the first floor of the museum.
Hawass said an investigation has been launched to find those behind the theft. "The police and army plan to follow up with the criminals already in custody," he added.
The museum was protected by army tanks and for a while by a cordon of citizen volunteers during nearly three weeks of anti-government rallies that ousted Mubarak and left at least 300 dead.