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Fresh wall collapse in Pompeii

Fourth in a week as UNESCO inspectors tour

07 December, 11:01
Fresh wall collapse in Pompeii

(ANSA) - Rome, December 3 - Pompeii on Friday saw its fourth wall collapse this week, the cultural heritage branch of the UIL trade union reported in Rome.

UIL said it had already warned of dangers to the wall before the 2,000-year-old site's famed Gladiators' School caved in and spurred an international outcry on November 6.

The wall that came down Friday was "some 20 metres from the school," UIL said.

It was about three metres long, three metres high and supported part of the House of Trebius Valens.

"There is an emergency, horrifying the world, that is not being tackled," UIL said.

The latest collapse took place as UNESCO inspectors began the second day of their tour of the world heritage site to report back on its maintenance and conservation.

Some international experts suggested taking Pompeii's care out of Italy's hands after the school collapse which President Giorgio Napolitano called "a national disgrace".

Polemics about looting, stray dogs and structural decay have dogged Pompeii, which was buried by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, for years.

Two walls fell down in the rain-soaked site on Wednesday and one on Tuesday.

Pompeii Superintendent Jeannette Papadopoulos played down the fresh incidents, saying "these episodes are possible in the life span of a 2,000-year-old, vast archeological site, especially in weather conditions like the ones over the past few days".

She said the crumbling "should not generate any alarmism or sensationalism".

Culture Minister Sandro Bondi, who is facing a no-confidence motion tabled after the school collapse, has pledged to set up a new foundation to better channel funds and manage conservation at the ruins, which is visited by an estimated two million people a year.

Rejecting calls that he should resign, the minister claimed he had done a "good job" in appointing special officials for Pompeii's upkeep.

"The collapse of one building can't wipe out the work we have done over the past two years," he said.

But he acknowledged more needed to be done and announced the foundation where the culture ministry would work with experts to better use proceeds from millions of visitors.

"The problem is in the management, not in resources," he told parliament, saying the ancient site brought an average of more than 50 million euros ($70 million) a year.

"We need management that uses the resources better".

The new body, Bondi said, would "assess the state of decay" all over the ancient city and decide what action to take.

Work would resume on five Pompeii houses including the famous Villa of the Mysteries, he said.

The centre-left opposition was not impressed by the minister's report and the two main groups, the Democratic Party and Italy of Values (IdV), announced their no-confidence motion aimed at bringing him down.

"Bondi has done more damage than Vesuvius," the IdV claimed.