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Tourist killed by falling stone at famous Italian church

By Ray Downs
Tourist killed by falling stone at famous Italian church
A Spanish tourist died Thursday while visiting the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence, Italy. File Photo by Alexandrvendetta/Wikipedia

Oct. 19 (UPI) -- A tourist visiting one of Italy's most famous churches, the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence, died after a decorative stone fell on top of him, Italian authorities said.

The 6-by-6-inch stone fell nearly 60 feet after it broke off from the side of one of the church's chapels,ABC News reported. First responders attempted to save the 52-year-old Spaniard who was visiting the church with his wife, but he died on the scene.

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Original construction of the church was completed in the mid-15th century. It has been undergoing maintenance for years. Irene Sanesi, head of the organization that manages the church, said great pains have been made to secure the reconstruction of the church and that she was shocked the incident occurred.

"For this very reason, for all the work that has been done in a constant way over the years, we are really stunned and bewildered by what has happened and we ask ourselves how it could have happened" she told Italian news agency ANSA.

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Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said a criminal probe will be conducted to determine the "chain of competence" of who may have been responsible for the accident.

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"There will be an investigation by magistrates to understand how this dramatic fact happened and whether there are responsibilities over maintenance," he said.

The Basilica di Santa Croce, which is Italian for the Basilica of the Holy Cross, is a popular tourist site in Florence and the burial sites for famous Italians like artist Michelangelo, writer and politician Niccolo Machiavelli, and astronomer Galileo Galilei.

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