ROME , July 17 (UPI) -- Work to safeguard the Pompeii archaeological site will be accelerated, the Italian government promised Thursday.
Dario Franceschini, Italian cultural minister, pledged delays in restoring the site -- created in 79 A.D. when the volcano Mount Vesuvius buried the city of Pompeii and preserved it in ash -- will be improved upon, calling the 105-million euro ($142 million) project "a challenge for the nation."
The work is being funded by the European Union's Commission on Regional Policy, and an agreement was signed in Pompeii between the commission and the city of Rome Thursday with a timetable for restoration work. Known as the Great Pompeii Project, the plan has had numerous delays in implementation, including a shutdown at one stage to deal with a legal appeal against the project's main contractor. Heavy rains in April led to walls collapsing in some ancient buildings, and warnings from UNSECO that Pompeii's World Heritage status was in jeopardy unless immediate action was taken.