In a bid to save the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii, that has fallen into disrepair, the Italian government has declared a « state of emergency ».
A special commissioner will be appointed by the ministers, in order to oversee the site, and have earmarked extra funding for it.
The ruins have suffered from lack of investment, mismanagement, litter and looting, analysts say.
In 79 AD, Pompeii was buried by a volcanic eruption, and was rediscovered in the 18th Century. Thanks to the volcanic debris, many of the city’s buildings, frescos, silverware, mosaics, and other artefacts have been preserved.
But experts complain that now the relics are in danger.
“Every year at least 150 sq m (1,600 sq ft) of fresco and plasterwork are lost for lack of maintenance”, Antonio Irlando, a regional councillor responsible for artistic heritage, told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
“The same goes for stones: at least 3,000 pieces every year end up disintegrating”, he added.
The newly-elected government has decided to act, as the ruins are one of Italy’s biggest tourist attractions.
“To call the situation intolerable doesn’t go far enough”, Reuters quoted Culture Minister Sandro Bondi as saying.
The “state of emergency” will last for a year.