Roman wall falls down after rain

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The Independent Online

A 20-foot section of Rome's ancient Aurelian Wall collapsed near the capital's central train station after days of heavy rain, a conservation official said yesterday.

The wall, part of a 16th century restoration, crumbled into a pile of bricks Thursday evening after water infiltrated the section, said Paola Virgili, an official in charge of the wall's restoration. No one was reported hurt.

The Aurelian Wall — named after the third century emperor who built it to defend the city against the first barbarian onslaughts — surrounds Rome with more than 11 miles of fortifications, towers and gates.

Experts had previously determined that the entire wall section in the area, a 1,100-foot stretch in the north of the capital, was in danger of collapsing and they had planned to start restoring it Monday.

"It came down before we could even cordon it off," Virgili said. "The problem is that these walls have a certain age and they are vulnerable to water infiltration."

Virgili said workers would put up emergency buttresses to shore up the collapsed section, while restoration on the entire endangered stretch would begin in a few months. It was not yet clear how much the works would cost, but Virgili said her budget stood at €2 million (US$2.88 million).