Italy declares a 'state of emergency' to save Pompeii

Italy's government began a process yesterday aimed at helping combat decay at the Pompeii archaeological site, officials said.

The government granted Pompeii emergency status, which will allow authorities to appoint a special commissioner to oversee the site's preservation and management, Culture Minister Sandro Bondi said.

The emergency status generally allows the government to channel funds more easily to the effected site. But it was not immediately clear if this would be the case for Pompeii, which will remain open to visitors.

Pietro Guzzo, Pompeii's archaeological superintendent, said in a statement that the "decay and careless management" cited by the ministry were the result of problems ranging from lack of services for visitors to reduced staff at the site.

Pompeii was destroyed in A.D. 79 by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which killed thousands of people and buried the city in 20 feet of volcanic ash. The ash preserved it for 1,600 years and provided precious information about what life was like in the ancient world.

The Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported Thursday that parts of the complex are crumbling or undergoing endless restorations.