Immediate closure

Following the tragedy, some sense of relief emerged on Saturday morning as to the state of the archaeological finds. Archaeologist Andreas Vlachopoulos, a colleague of archaeologist Christos Doumas, who is responsible for overseeing the project at Akrotiri on behalf of the archaeologists, told Kathimerini that «the antiquities are in remarkably well-preserved condition.» The section of the bioclimatic roof that fell covered Section 4 of the site. «The northern part of the site, the gateway and the facade of the western house seem untouched,» said Vlachopoulos. The structure had been completed and was waiting for the area to be laid out and corridors delineated. The disaster will certainly put the excavation and the completion of this massive project back many years. The archaeologists’ foremost concern now is to protect and preserve the antiquities at the point where the roof collapsed. Though opposition spokesmen have tried to blame the tragedy on the government, in fact the Archaeological Society auctioned the project in 1999 and construction began in 2000. In July 2004, the Culture Ministry requested and received funding from the Finance Ministry in order to complete the project, which had stalled for lack of funds, and to protect the antiquities. Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis convened an extraordinary meeting at the ministry Friday immediately after his return from Santorini. A decision was reached to close down the archaeological site immediately, and to form a committee of ministry officials and National Technical University of Athens and Technical Chamber representatives to investigate the cause of the accident and publish their findings.