Most of Pompeii site at risk of collapse

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Naples (Italy), Nov 10 (IANS/AKI) Almost three-quarters of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii was “at risk” of collapse and 40 percent of its buildings in need of highly urgent restoration work, a media report said.

Seven out of ten of Pompeii’s ancient buildings were in danger of collapse and only thirty percent were in good condition, while forty percent were crumbling, according to a 2005 report cited Tuesday by Naples daily Il Mattino.

A volcanic eruption in 79 AD buried Pompeii under 6 metres of volcanic ash, preserving much of the city. The archaelogical site extends over 76 hectares.

The report surfaced after the collapse Saturday of one of the most archaeologically important houses in Pompeii, the 2,000-year-old House of the Gladiators during heavy rains.

The collapse of the celebrated structure shocked the world and prompted calls for Italian Culture Minister Sandro Bondi’s resignation. Pompeii is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bondi was due to report Wednesday to the Italian parliament on the disaster. The building is thought to have been used by combatants to train or relax before entering the nearby amphitheatre.

Bondi has said he believes the damage was caused by faulty restoration in the 1950s and by the recent heavy rains.

The 2005 report on Pompeii, located near Naples in southern Italy, was commissioned by its former superintendent Pietro Giovanni Guzzo and carried out by a team of archaeologists and architects.

Pompeii is the largest archaeological site in the world. It received 2.2 million visitors in the first 10 months of 2010, according to Antonio Varone, director of excavations at the site.

Police have sealed off the area around the collapsed building and an investigation is underway. Archaeologists are assessing the current state of the site and police have been searching the Pompeii Archaelogical Superindendency offices for any relevant documents, according to Il Mattino.

It was not clear what action was taken to safeguard buildings at Pompeii after the 2005 report. In January this year, a wall surrounding the nearby House of the Chaste Lovers collapsed amid heavy rains.

Work was reportedly done on the roof of the 2,000-year-old House of the Gladiators in 2007. The structure was rebuilt in the 1950s after it was flattened in World War II bombing raids.

Critics say Pompeii and dozens of other ancient Italian sites risk damage or destruction because of mismanagement and a lack of maintenance, in part owing to culture funding cuts.


will not be displayed