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Italy: Pompeii collapse renews outrage over site's condition

last update: October 27, 15:48

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Naples, 27 Oct. (AKI) - A collapse at Pompeii has sparked renewed outrage that the world's largest archeological site is being neglected, prompting the government to send archeologists to assess the damage.

A labour union on Thursday reported that a chunk of the wall from Domus of Diomede building on Via Consolare collapsed a day after European Commissioner Johannes Hahn announced that the European Union would give up to 105 million euros to protect and restore the fragile site UNESCO World Heritage site that was buried by volcanic ash around two thousand years ago.

The funds are part of one billion euros earmarked for cultural heritage projects, with particular emphasis on southern Italy, according to Italian minister for regional affairs Raffaele Fitto.

An similar collapse last week prompted Italian culture minister Giancarlo Galan to promise that he would make Pompeii his "the utmost priorty.''

He made almost identical remarks in March shortly after the state of Pompeii led to his predecessor's resignation.

"Enough already," said opposition politician Vittoria Franco, a member the Italian Senate's culture commission. "What is the Culture Ministry waiting for? For one of the world's most important archeological sites to disappear?"

A collapse of a portion of the House of the Gladiators last November following heavy rains led to Sandro Bondi's resignation as culture minister. Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's government then, and now, is accused by critics of starving culture of needed funds, even as the country implements austerity measures to save 54 billion euros and put its financial house in order.

In the wake of the House of the Gladiators collapse, Naples newspaper Il Mattino dug up a 2005 report saying seven out of ten of Pompeii's ancient buildings were in danger of collapse and only thirty percent were in good condition, while forty percent were crumbling.

A volcanic eruption in 79 AD buried Pompeii under 6 metres of volcanic ash, preserving much of the city. The archaeological site extends over 76 hectares.

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