Third collapse in Italy's ancient Pompeii

Last updated 08:28 04/03/2014

POMPEII FALLING: A sign, which reads: ''No Entry'', hangs on a perimeter fence in the ancient Roman city Pompeii, which was buried in AD 79 by an eruption of the Vesuvius volcano.

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A wall in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii has collapsed, the third piece of the UNESCO world heritage site to crumble since the weekend after days of heavy rain in southern Italy, authorities said.

One of the country's most popular attractions, Pompeii was preserved under ash from a volcanic eruption in 79 AD and rediscovered in the 18th century.

It has become a symbol for decades of mismanagement of Italy's cultural sites after a series of collapses that have sparked international outcry.

The new damage may increase pressure on new culture minister Dario Franceschini at an emergency meeting, which he called after the wall of a tomb and part of an arch supporting a Temple of Venus perished over the weekend due to heavy rainfall.

Contrasting the crumbling state of Pompeii to the success of the Italian film "The Great Beauty", which won the Oscar for best foreign language film, Franceschini wrote on Twitter:

"During the night Sorrentino won the Oscar and another wall came down in Pompeii. It's a lesson: believe in the beauty we have and protect it with pride."

The latest wall to come down was part of a workshop on the corner of a street in the ancient city called Via Nola which had been partly restored and reinforced with an iron bar.

It was at the boundary of the excavated part of the site, an area at particular risk because unexcavated ground becomes waterlogged and swollen after rainfall, pressuring the ancient masonry it rests against.

Securing those areas was one aim of the Great Pompeii Project, a €105 million ($172.7 million) restoration plan partly funded by the European Union and launched a year ago.

The project hit delays amid disagreement on who should be named to lead the works.

It announced last month it had finished work on the first of five villas marked for restoration, the House of the Cryptoporticus, a villa with an underground passageway that was heavily damaged in World War Two bombing.

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- Reuters

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