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Leaders call for rebuilding of Naples' burned science city

Site seen as a badge of honor and tourist draw in hard-hit area

05 March, 17:29
Leaders call for rebuilding of Naples' burned science city (by Gordon Sorlini).

(ANSA) - Naples, March 5 - Citizens of Naples were facing a day of intense soul-searching Tuesday after a massive blaze destroyed much of the city's Citta' della Scienza (City of Science) complex, one of the city's biggest tourist attractions and a badge of pride on a city tainted by corruption, organized crime and garbage-collection scandals.

Local and national politicians and union representatives all rushed to call for a quick rebuilding and safeguarding of jobs as investigators attempted to come up with an initial picture of what caused the massive fire late Monday night.

Earlier Tuesday Naples Mayor Luigi De Magistris said the southern metropolis should mourn ''a loss for the city, for culture and science'' and said he suspected foul play was behind the massive blaze that destroyed much of the complex.

''It seems to me that a criminal hand is behind the flames,'' De Magistris said. ''Now we have to put all our trust in the magistrates for the most in-depth investigation possible''.

Police investigators said they as yet did not have sufficient evidence to determine what caused the fire.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, who said he had visited the museum many times, was among those who underlined how deep the loss was.

During one of his visits, in 1993 - while the museum was still being built - Napolitano said the City of Sciences served as ''an example'' of how a ''multifaceted project'' could create many benefits to the community, in terms of services, research and jobs as well as in terms of environmental gains. Meanwhile, among those calling Tuesday for swift action to get the complex reopened as soon as possible was also Susanna Camusso, the head of the powerful CGIL national labor union.

''While investigators ascertain the causes of this tragedy, the (national) and regional governments must intervene immediately and commit to getting the site working again as soon as possible, giving certainty of the investments to be made, of the speed of their actions and they must guarantee continuity for the workers.'' ''The sight of workers in tears in front of the burning site is a testimony to how badly hit the area is by the destruction of a symbol of innovation,'' Camusso said, reminding that the museum was built on a site abandoned by troubled Italian steel maker ILVA SpA.

The Citta della Scienza gave work to some 160 workers in an economically stunted part of the city and attraced some 350,000 visitors annually.

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