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Crews level rest of Georgia Guidestones after damage from explosive device

The Georgia Guidestones are inscribed with ten guiding principles, each etched in stone using languages from around the world.

ELBERT COUNTY, Ga. — Authorities are investigating after an explosion destroyed the Georgia Guidestones in Elbert County, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said. 

They said "unknown individuals" detonated an explosive device at around 4 a.m. on Wednesday. The Elbert County Sheriff’s Office responded to discover the explosion destroyed a large portion of the structure, they said.

According to multiple people nearby, the explosion was heard in the area and even shook their homes. Some shared images showing debris near the stones. 

11Alive's Dawn White reported from the scene in Elbert County in the evening that crews had gone in to level the remaining standing parts of the Guidestones.

Video from the scene showed construction equipment and the stone blocks in a rubble heap.

A witness who lives about five miles from the site told NBC affiliate WYFF that they heard a boom and it woke them up. They went over to the structures, often referred to as the "American Stonehenge," at daybreak and saw the damage. 

NBC affiliate WYFF's helicopter was over the scene and saw pieces of the monument destroyed. 

The Elbert County Sheriff's Office asked the GBI to assist with the investigation. GBI's Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit is on scene conducting their examination of the site, they said.

The Georgia Guidestones are inscribed with ten guiding principles, each etched in stone using languages from around the world. The meaning behind the mysterious 19-foot monoliths has been unclear since the structure was built in 1979.

No one knows exactly what the granite slabs are doing in the middle of a cow pasture - or who who put them there more than 40 years ago. 

The roadside attraction received renewed attention during Georgia's May 24 gubernatorial primary when third-place Republican candidate Kandiss Taylor claimed the guidestones are satanic and made demolishing them part of her platform.

The Guidestones are about 100 miles from Atlanta in the northeast corner of the state -- not far from the South Carolina border. 

Contact the Elbert County Sheriff's Office at (706) 283-2421 or the GBI at (706) 552-2309 if you have any information. Anonymous tips can also be submitted by calling 1-800-597-TIPS (8477) or online.

This is a developing story. Check back often for new information.

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