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Fresh collapse at Pompeii

Day after govt's 'extraordinary measures'

20 March, 13:17
Fresh collapse at Pompeii (ANSA) - Naples, March 20 - Pompeii suffered a fresh collapse Thursday, the fourth this month amid UNESCO warnings it could "completely fall apart" and lose its world heritage status unless urgent action is taken.

A part of a wall came down in a domus a day after the government unveiled extraordinary measures including sending in 30 private security guards after two frescoes were stolen. 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 at least one week earlier.

Another priceless fresco was removed but mysteriously returned a week later.

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

Heavy rain was blamed for a wall of a Roman-era shop collapsing in Pompeii on March 3, a day after two other precious parts of the ancient city - a wall at the Temple of Venus and another wall on a tomb in the famed necropolis of Porta Nocera - suffered serious damage from bad weather.

These followed a long and worrying catalogue of bits of Pompeii falling off.

In November 2010 the House of the Gladiators came down, prompting Italian President Giorgio Napolitano to say: "This is a disgrace for the whole of Italy".

In February 2012 a piece of plaster came off the Temple of Jupiter, one of Pompeii's main attractions.

Then, in September 2012, at the Villa of the Mysteries, an even more iconic building, a five-metre-long flying buttress gave in and went crashing to the ground.

Last November, finally, a wall in one of the ancient city's main thoroughfares, Via dell'Abbondanza, keeled over while another piece of decorative plaster, at the House of the Little Fountain, dropped from the ceiling.

Pompeii's new superintendent Massimo Osanna told ANSA Wednesday he welcomed "all the extraordinary measures that may help us in the difficult safeguarding of this site".