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Anger as tourist site stays closed

- by Archimedes

Anger as tourist site stays closed.

Anger is mounting on the holiday island of Santorini as the impressive Akrotiri archaeological site remains closed the public even though restoration work is complete. The Akrotiri site on Santorini was shut down more than six years ago when a newly installed 'bioclimate' roof collapsed, killing one UK tourist and injuring several more.

Tourism leaders in Santorini are angry at the delay in opening the site despite an assurance by the excavation leaders that the rebuilding work is now complete

The original 'bioclimate' roof of Akrotiri was built in 2000, but part of it collapsed in September 2005. The original roof has now been completely dismantled and a new roof erected with reinforced columns and new earthquake proof bearings.

Hopes were high that the popular Santorini tourist attraction would reopen this summer in time for the Santorini holiday season.

But reopening plans have got bogged down in red tape. Planning officials say health and fire safety certificates have still not been issued while archaeology staff insist they don' have the manpower to compile the necessary reports.

Akrotiri excavation directors admit there are still small defects on the site, but believe these should not prevent provisional acceptance of the new roof and that the archaeological site of Akrotiri could be opened to Greek and foreign visitors.

Santorini holiday island leaders are angry that, nearly seven years after the disaster, the site is still closed to the public. Fira Mayor Nicholas Zorzos said: "Six years is enough, it must not make seven. I visited the place, saw its details and so I support that it can be opened tomorrow."

He says it is outrageous that the Santorini tourist site should stay closed at a time when Greece is desperate for quality tourism

Akrotiri, on Santorini, is considered one of the finest and best preserved archaeological finds in the whole of Greece. A Minoan city was buried in volcanic ash around 1500 BC and remained untouched until its existence was uncovered in the 1860s.

Excavations unearthed paved lanes lined with three-storey houses and rooms full of artifacts including large, unbroken vessels and storage jars. As at Pompeii, the finds were of an extraordinary state of preservation as a result of being buried under tons of ash.

Last year, prison sentences were imposed on eight defendants for the part they played in the roof collapse on Santorini.