Thursday 2 December 2010

BBC: Pompeii wall collapse damage inspected by Unesco team

Posted on the BBC website an hour ago:
Pompeii wall collapse damage inspected by Unesco team
After a series of wall collapses at Italy's ancient city of Pompeii, experts from UN cultural organisation Unesco has arrived to examine the site.
One wall gave way on Tuesday and two more the next day, three weeks after the House of Gladiators crumbled.
Officials blamed Wednesday's wall collapses on heavy rain but Unesco says concerns have been raised about Pompeii's state of preservation.
The UN team will assess the World Heritage site for further problems.
Unesco said the three-day mission would seek to identify the reason for the collapses at the historic site, come up with possible protection measures and encourage the Italian authorities to adopt a plan for the future.
"We can give advice and we can work with them but ultimately responsibility for the site rests with the Italian authorities," Unesco spokeswoman Sue Williams told the BBC.
The rash of problems at one of the world's most emblematic archaeological sites have acutely embarrassed the Italian government.
The opposition accuses Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government of not spending more to protect the country's heritage, and there have been calls for the resignation of Culture Minister Sandro Bondi.
Pompeii's problems surfaced when the House of Gladiators was found in ruins in early November.
Known as the Schola Armaturarum, it was used by gladiators for training before fights in the nearby amphitheatre.
There was speculation that recent heavy rains might have made the structure unstable.
Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano described the collapse as a "shame for Italy".
Heavy rain was also blamed for the three wall collapses this week.
Of the two that gave way on Wednesday, officials said neither were of artistic value.
One was part of a partition wall between two buildings along the central route of Via Stabiana.
The other was an upper part of a wall from the House of the small Lupanar.
Pompeii was completely buried in ash in AD79 by a volcanic eruption from nearby Mount Vesuvius.
It was not uncovered until the 18th Century and it was made a World Heritage site in 1997.

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