Coffins left hanging in air after second Naples cemetery collapse this year

Critics blame poor management of cemeteries in Italian city as collapse at Poggioreale cemetery exposes at least a dozen coffins.

The city council ordered the Poggioreale Monumental Cemetery to be closed as a precaution on Tuesday, as coffins dangled precariously over the void. Photograph: Ciro Fusco/EPA

By in Rome
Last modified on 2022 Oct 18

At least a dozen coffins have been left dangling in the air after the collapse of a four-storey building containing burial niches at the oldest cemetery in Naples.

It is the second such incident at the site this year, with critics blaming the poor management of cemeteries in the southern Italian city.

Authorities sealed off the Poggioreale cemetery – the biggest in Naples – as an investigation into the collapse of the marble building, called the Resurrection, in the cemetery’s Porta Balestrieri area, got under way. No visitors were at the cemetery at the time of the collapse on Monday afternoon as it had closed for the day.

“The collapse was preceded by a bang and a dense cloud of dust,” said Vincenzo Santagada, a Naples councillor with responsibility for cemeteries. “As an administration we are taking care of all the necessary formalities.”

A separate investigation is continuing after about 300 burial niches were destroyed in the collapse of a building in another area of the cemetery in January.

Families of the dead held a protest on Tuesday.

Maurizio Boddi, whose wife, parents and in-laws are buried in niches in the building, told Italy’s Dire newspaper: “The only fortunate thing is that their [coffins] haven’t fallen out, as they are [buried] more inside [the building].”

Politicians in Campania, the region surrounding Naples, say the city’s cemeteries have not been looked after for years. “There has been a new collapse at the Poggioreale cemetery,” Francesco Emilio Borelli, a regional councillor for the Europa Verde (Europe Greens) party, wrote on Facebook. “This is a critical and unacceptable situation. For too many years, cemeteries in Naples have been badly managed and left to fend for themselves, falling prey to swindlers and profiteers.”

In February last year, 200 coffins fell into the sea off the Ligurian coastal town of Camogli in northern Italy after parts of a cemetery collapsed in a landslide, which also destroyed two chapels.


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