Disasters & Accidents

Columbarium collapse at Naples cemetery exposes numerous coffins

Rome, Oct 18 (EFE).- The collapse of a four-level columbarium with hundreds of niches for human remains in Naples, Italy, on Tuesday exposed numerous coffins, some of them hanging precariously from their resting places, and forcing authorities to cordon off the entire area.

This is the second time this year that the Poggioreale cemetery in Naples has suffered an accident, the first one coming on Jan. 5 this year, apparently after work on a subterranean metro line caused a massive ground collapse.

After the Jan. 5 collapse, which destroyed about 300 graves, the Naples Prosecutor’s Office ordered the cemetery’s closure and is currently investigating 20 people for their potential involvement in causing a disastrous accident while engaging in the metro construction work.

Specifically, the Tuesday incident occurred at the Chapel of the Resurrection, a four-level funerary building filled with niches for coffins and cremation urns that has now partially collapsed, destroying dozens of graves.

A portion of the building is still standing, but some of the coffins that are hanging out of their niches are at risk of tumbling down, potentially spilling their contents.

At the time the columbarium collapsed there was nobody at the chapel, which had been closed for 10 months.

However, the Naples City Hall ordered the immediate closure of the entire cemetery on Tuesday so that the newly-exposed coffins, physical human remains and urns for cremated ashes could be collected and taken to the Nuovissimo cemetery, also in the southern Italian city.

Numerous people on Tuesday denounced the situation at the cemetery and the fact that dozens of coffins, many of them containing the remains of their loved ones, in both January and today were exposed to the open air.

The councilman responsible for the city’s cemeteries, Vincenzo Santagada, came to the site and said that the columbarium’s collapse was not the result of metro work like the January incident.

“The one on Jan. 5 was caused by the (construction) work but in this case that has nothing to do with it, or at least that’s what they’ve told me. This was due to a structural collapse of the chapel,” he told reporters.

Santagada said that in the coming days, authorities will determine if the closed-off area around the chapel needs to be expanded.

EFE gsm/ag/bp

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