Monday, November 8, 2010

Rome warns of more Pompeii collapses

Rome – Further unique relics from the Roman town of Pompeii are in danger of collapse, Italy's culture minister warned on Sunday – following the collapse of the famous "Gladiator's House" this weekend.

Frescoes from the 2 000 year-old Roman building "can probably be restored", Sandro Bondi insisted.

But Bondi also warned that unless urgent work is carried out, other archaeological treasures in Pompeii could share the same fate as the Gladiators' House.

The 40-square-metre edifice was used by gladiators to train before going to fight in a nearby amphitheatre.

First reports suggested that water infiltration following recent heavy rains may have caused the ground to shift causing the collapse of the roof, part of the walls and its facade.

Disgrace for Italy

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has described the incident as a "disgrace for Italy".

Critics, including several experts, say the upkeep of many of Italy's heritage sites, including the Colosseum and Pompeii, has become impossible by funding cuts made by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government.

"If (I) knew for certain that I was responsible for what has happened (in Pompeii) then I would resign," Bondi said, speaking during a visit to inspect the damage at the site.

Bondi suggested the upkeep of the Pompeii has been mismanaged. Only half of the funds allocated in 2009 were actually spent, he revealed.

Pompeii was destroyed in 79AD by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius that killed thousands of people and buried the city in six metres of volcanic ash.