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Italy says to unblock 2.0mn euros to save Pompeii
Photo taken on March 2, 2014 shows the damaged Temple of Venus at the ancient ruins of Pompeii, near Naples, southern Italy. The Temple of Venus and the wall of a tomb in the long-neglected ruins of Pompeii near Naples were found damaged on March 2, possibly due to heavy rain. Custodians found that parts of an archway in the temple had fallen off and a wall in the necropolis, the biggest in the ancient Roman city -- had tumbled and have closed the areas to the public. AFP PHOTO / MARIO LAPORTA.
ROME (AFP).- Italy vowed on Tuesday to unblock some 2.0 million euros ($2.8 million) to save the long-neglected ruins of Pompeii after rain caused further damage to the UNESCO World Heritage landmark.

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said he was "unblocking many measures which will get the machine working" amid anger about the slow pace of a multi-million EU-backed project to restore the famous Roman site.

Franceschini's statement came after the Temple of Venus and the walls of a tomb and shop in the archaeological site near Naples were damaged by rainfall on Sunday and Monday.

EU Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn said that "every collapse is a huge defeat" and urged Italy "to take care of Pompeii, because it is emblematic not only for Europe but also for the world."

Franceschini stressed that the EU "can be sure that Italy is taking care of Pompeii, both in terms of emergency measures and in the long term."

In addition to the two million euros, Rome has also proposed a tie-up with aerospace and defence giant Finmeccanica to use some of its satellite technology for site maintenance and weather warnings.

Last year, conservation workers began a 105-million-euro makeover of Pompeii, funded by the EU to the tune of 41.8 million euros.

But according to the Corriere della Sera daily Tuesday, only 588,000 euros has been spent so far -- just 0.56 percent of the funds.

The project is seen as crucial to the survival of Pompeii after a series of collapses at the 44-hectare site in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius -- the volcano that destroyed the city in 79 AD.

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

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