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Government launches extraordinary measures in Pompeii

Specialized security staff announced following theft of frescoes

19 March, 18:18
Government launches extraordinary measures in Pompeii (ANSA) - Pompeii, March 19 - The Italian government is launching extraordinary measures to protect the Pompeii archaeological site including 30 new specialized security staff, Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said Wednesday.

The measures come after two priceless frescoes were reported stolen from the site earlier this week.

The government says that it will also speed up tendering for work on other new surveillance measures including a more secure fence for the site, which has been plagued by problems that have contributed to parts of the 2,000-year-old site crumbling.

The European Commission has pledged 105 million euros for repairs and restoration under the ambitious Great Pompeii Project for the world-famous site, created when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, preserving the entire city in ash. Security has also been sub-standard, critics say, and earlier this week reports emerged that a portion of a fresco of Apollo and Artemis was stolen by experts at least one week earlier. In addition to thefts, collapses of walls in ancient structures have drawn renewed calls to increase protection at the site, with UNESCO warning it could fall down completely without "extraordinary measures".

UNESCO has warned Italy that without serious upgrades, Pompeii could be removed from its prestigious list of World Heritage sites.

Pompeii has been plagued for decades by accusations of mismanagement, neglect and even infiltration by the local Camorra mafia.