An 11th-Century bell tower collapsed on its steps and adjacent street today, killing at least four people and injuring 10, police said.
The bell tower on the municipal building in the historic center of Pavia, an industrial city 25 miles south of Milan, crumbled and fell at about 9 a.m., raining masonry on the street and sending pedestrians running for safety.
Among the four people crushed to death was an elderly woman selling newspapers at the foot of the tower. There were no serious injuries among the 10 people injured, police said.
Hundreds of police and members of fire rescue teams, some of them rushed in from Milan, searched the heap of masonry--about 35 feet wide and 35 feet high--for more victims.
Part of a wall of the 15th-Century cathedral close to the 11th-Century bell tower also collapsed, police said. The cathedral was built by the Renaissance architect known as Bramante, whose real name was Donato D’Agnolo. He was the original architect of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Pavia was known in the Middle Ages as “the city of a hundred towers” and many of those ancient towers are still standing.