Herculaneum closed to tourists, staff shortage blamed

Popular site near Pompeii victim of underfunding, say staff

(ANSA) - Naples, July 6 - The ancient site of Herculaneum near Pompeii in southern Italy was shut to the public Monday afternoon because of a staff shortage that officials blamed on understaffing.
    The Superintendent for Cultural Heritage responsible for the sites at Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabia said in a statement that the closure "highlights the critical situation...at Mt.
    Vesuvius archaeological sites".
    The 36 staff members at Herculaneum are divided between five shifts daily but that is inadequate for a site that covers an area of 4.5 hectares and requires six or seven staff per shift to supervise and protect the ancient site, officials said.
    A sudden illness threw the schedule off and forced Monday's closure to the public, they added.
    Herculaneum - like the more famous Pompeii - was destroyed by an eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD.
    Both are UNESCO World Heritage sites and concerns about their protection and preservation have been increasing amid reports in recent years about cave-ins, natural disasters, and outright thefts of priceless archaeological relics.


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