Italy: More building collapses at Pompeii possible

Nov 08, 2010
A worker jumps over a puddle among debris in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, Italy, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010. Officials say that a house in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii once used by gladiators to train before combat has collapsed. The site was closed at the time and nobody was injured. The office of Pompeii's archaeological superintendent said the collapse occurred Saturday at around 6 a.m. (0500 GMT). Attendants opening the site saw the collapse about an hour later. The 430-square-foot (40-square-meter) space was used by gladiators to train before going to fight in a nearby amphitheater. Pompeii was destroyed in A.D. 79 by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius that killed thousands of people and buried the city in 20 feet (six meters) of volcanic ash. (AP Photo/Salvatore Laporta)

(AP) -- More buildings inside the ancient Roman city of Pompeii could collapse, Italy's culture minister said Sunday, a day after a 2,000-year-old house once used by gladiators disintegrated into rubble.

The collapse Saturday at one of Italy's main tourist attractions was a source of embarrassment for the government and the country. President Giorgio Napolitano said it was a "disgrace for Italy" and demanded an explanation.

Culture Minister Sandro Bondi, who went to Pompeii to survey the damage on Sunday, warned that other buildings could also fall, according to Italian news agencies.

Given the number of buildings that need restoration, further damage is virtually "inevitable," said Daniela Leone, a spokeswoman for Pompeii's archaeological superintendence.

"This is a vast area that requires maintenance, resources," she said.

The house that collapsed on Saturday was used by gladiators to train before going to fight in a nearby amphitheater, as well as by other athletes. It was also a storehouse for weapons and armor.

It was believed to have been built not long before Pompeii was destroyed in A.D. 79 by an eruption of Mount , which killed thousands of people and buried the city in 20 feet (six meters) of .

The house was also partially destroyed during World War II, and the roof and some of the walls had been rebuilt.

Bondi suggested that water infiltration following heavy rains and the heavy roof added during the postwar restoration were to blame.

However, he said some frescoes on the lower parts of the walls may be saved, and urged more government funds for .

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