Italy: Stone-fragment falls on tourist, killing him in famous church
A 52-year-old tourist from Spain has been killed as a piece of ceiling fell on him in the Basilica di Santa Croce, the biggest church in Italy's Florence region. The tragic incident took place at the church where artist Michelangelo, astronomer Galileo Galilei, and philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli are buried. Police said the church has been closed to tourists until further notice. Read more.
The Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, who was in New York, said that concerned officials would conduct an investigation into the matter, and find out if the incident took place due to faulty maintenance.
The Spanish man, hailing from Barcelona, was visiting the church with his wife. He was struck by a piece of stone of ~15cm in diameter that fell from a height of 20 meters. The Basilica di Santa Croce is Florence's main Franciscan and an important tourist site. The incident raised concerns about the state of several aging, fragile monuments in Italy.
Offering condolences to the victim's family, Basilica di Santa Croce's representative said she was "stunned" and "distraught". Irene Sanesi, President of Opera di Santa Croce (the body that runs the church), said maintenance of the church was "carried out constantly" in the recent years.