Man killed by falling Florence church stone

Maurizio DeglInnocenti  ANSA via APSanta Croce Basilica where a tourist from Spain was killed by falling masonry in Florence Italy Oct. 19 2017

Falling masonry in one of Florence's most famous churches killed a 52-year-old tourist from Spain on Thursday, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

According to ABC News, the piece of stone, about six inches by six inches, fell nearly 60 feet and is thought to have come loose from a piece of stonework supporting beams on the church's ceiling.

Medical teams rushed to the spot but were unable to revive Schnell, who was visiting the church with his wife.

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Original construction of the church was completed in the mid-15th century. Sanesi said: "there is a multi-year plan for maintenance, restoration and prevention, drawn up in collaboration with the civil protection department". Irene Sanesi, the president of the Opera di Santa Croce, the body which runs the church, said she was "distraught" over the incident and offered her condolences to the victim's family.

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, speaking from NY, said prosecutors would conduct an investigation to determine the cause and if faulty maintenance was to blame. "There will be an investigation by magistrates to understand how this dramatic fact happened and whether there are responsibilities over maintenance", he said.

The famed church-one of Florence's top tourist attractions and home to the tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo-will be closed today, Friday, October 20, according to the organization that manages the church, the Opera di Santa Croce. "That is why we are truly stunned and astonished by what has happened", she said, adding that she did not know when the church would be reopened. "Ministry technicians already at the scene".

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