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Italy denies Pompeii wall collapses have to do with budget cuts

Reuters/Ciro De Luca

Two ancient Roman walls in the archaeological site of Pompeii collapsed on Wednesday, a day after one collapsed and a frescoed house was ruined last month. The government denies the site has degraded due to cuts in the culture budget.

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"These things can happen in a vast archaeological site that is 2,000 years old, especially considering the weather conditions we've had over the last few days," said Jeannette Papadopoulus, superintendent at the site.

Experts have blamed persistent, heavy rains over the past few weeks that have worn away ancient mortar between stones.

Pompeii, outside of Naples in southern Italy, is one of the world’s best preserved ancient sites, having been covered by ash in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted.

Neither of the walls that collapsed Wednesday had frescoes or murals, according to curators.

On Tuesday a 12-metre-long wall fell behind the House of the Moralist, and on 6 November the House of the Gladiators collapsed into rubble, sparking debate over how Italy is protecting its archaeological sites.

Italy declared a state of emergency for Pompeii in July 2008, saying it was in serious disrepair.

But government officials deny the collapse of the Gladiator house was due to culture budget cuts. Instead, it blamed local management problems at the site.

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