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Italy: Crumbling Pompeii risks United Nations downgrade

last update: January 20, 15:25

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Rome, 20 Jan. (AKI) - Pompeii risks being losing a prestigious status in favour of being branded "at risk" if Italy doesn't cut through some of its bureaucratic red tape and immediately start work to restore the crumbling 2,000 year old site, according to Giovanni Puglisi, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization official.

"The funds are there. The work sites have to open. Enough of playing around with bureaucracy," said Giovanni Puglisi, president of the Italian national commission for UNESCO, in an interview with Adnkronos. "Otherwise, there is the possibility that UNESCO will withdraw it from the "Patrimony of Humanity" list and assign it "at risk" status.

Pompeii, the world's largest archeological site, has suffered a number of high-profile collapses as heavy rain causes walls from the ancient structures to crumble.

A 2010 collapse of a portion of the House of the Gladiators last November led to Sandro Bondi's resignation as culture minister. Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's government was accused by critics of starving culture of needed funds as the country implemented austerity measures to save tens-of-billions of euros to put its financial house in order.

More recently, in October a chunk of the wall from Domus of Diomede building on Via Consolare collapsed a day the European Union announced it would give up to 105 million euros to protect and restore the fragile UNESCO World Heritage site that was buried by nearby Mt. Vesuvius' ash in 79 AD.

Italy's thick bureaucracy has slowed and halted numerous projects in culture and infrastructure development. Sponsorship for work on the Roman Colosseum is up in the air after luxury shoe billionaire Diego Della Valle earlier this month said he may scrap a deal to pay for the 25 million euro restoration of amid a probe into possible violations of contract bidding.

"These are sites which have been around for thousands of years suffering from particular situations that are speeding up their deterioration. There is a need for quick intervention for their conservation," Publisi said.

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