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Funding pledge starts Pisa work

FULL SCALE stabilisation of Italy's leaning tower of Pisa could start this month following the Italian government's decision to back the scheme.

It has pledged some £2.3M to fund work through to next year, which could see the historic structure re-opened to the public by mid-2001. The tower was closed in 1989 following safety fears.

Lack of funding delayed the start of work proper last September following successful trials of the soil extraction method earlier in the summer which saw the tower's lean reduced by 45mm.

The target is to move the top of the tower 500mm to the north and reduce stress on the marble masonry by about 10%.

An estimated 50m 3of soil will have to be removed by taking soil cores to induce controlled settlement beneath the north side of the tower.

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