Delays overshadow Akrotiri roof

Plans for constructing a new roof over the Akrotiri archaeological site on the island of Santorini have been submitted to the local town-planning office two-and-a-half years after the structure caved in, killing a British tourist. However, this latest development is unlikely to lead to visitors being able to return to the site in the immediate future. Sources said yesterday that the two companies undertaking the structural survey have handed in their plans for making sure the roof will withstand greater weight in the future. The huge steel roof covering the ancient Minoan city collapsed in September 2005 when workers were watering soil laid over it. Six people were also injured in the accident. The prehistoric town of Akrotiri was one of the chief urban centers in the Aegean until its destruction in a huge volcanic blast to hit the ancient Cycladic island of Thera in the 17th century BC. The site, a major tourist attraction for the popular island, has been shut since the accident after continual delays to repair the damage. Ministry sources said in 2006 that the repair work would be completed by October 2007. Last September, they said that the roof would be in place by the end of 2008. However, even this target now seems far off, since, once the town-planning office on Santorini approves the plans, it will take about another year for the repair work to actually be carried out, according to sources. The new roof will have a bioclimatic design, which means that it will take into account climate and environmental conditions to help achieve a comfortable environment for visitors to the site. A date for the site to reopen to tourists has not been set.