Disaster on Santorini

A male tourist was killed and at least six people were injured when a huge state-of-the-art steel roof covering the Akrotiri archaeological site on Santorini collapsed yesterday afternoon. The 1,000-square-meter steel structure caved in while workers were watering soil laid out upon it as part of plans to regulate the temperature and humidity on the site of the ancient Minoan city. Rescue workers continued to search the rubble last night but could not say how many people were trapped. Staff at the site said all employees had been accounted for. No details were available about the dead man and those injured. The extent of damage to antiquities was unclear. Since weather conditions were good at the time of the collapse, experts questioned the quality of the material used for the roof, whose construction began in 2000 and was due to be completed this December. The consortium in charge of the project, J&P Avax-Impregilo-Embedos, said the construction of the roof had been carried out «subject to the highest technical standards and under the constant supervision of the Archaeological Society.» It said it would enlist experts to probe the cause of the accident. Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis, whose ministry funded the project, was flown to the site. He said an investigation would be carried out to identify those responsible for the tragedy. It was Tatoulis who approved the site’s opening in the summer of 2004, ahead of the Athens Olympics. The prehistoric town at Akrotiri was one of the chief urban centers in the Aegean until its destruction in a huge volcanic blast in the 17th century BC.