A stone fragment fell on a tourist visiting Florence’s Basilica of the Holy Cross, killing him, on Thursday, Oct. 19, officials said.
The 16-square-inch piece of stone, was part of a support structure about 100 feet high.
The president of the church’s board of directors, Irene Sanesi, said the piece was from a part of the church that had been restored.
“We are destroyed [by what happened] and we express our condolences to the victim’s family,” he told Il Sole 24, adding that nothing like this had ever happened before.
The church was closed by police, a spokesman for the national fire rescue service said. The fire service identified the victim as a male Spaniard in his 50s.
Local media identified the man as Daniel Testor Schnell, 52, from Barcelona. According to local media ANSA.it, he was visiting the basilica with his wife, who witnessed the accident.
“Deeply sorry for the incident at the Basilica of the Holy Cross where a Spanish tourist was killed,” Florence’s Mayor Dario Nardella tweeted in Italian. “Engineers from the ministry are already on site.”
Profondo dispiacere per l’incidente nella Basilica di S.Croce dove ha perso la vita il turista spagnolo. Tecnici del ministero già sul posto
— Dario Nardella (@DarioNardella) October 19, 2017
The basilica was full of tourists at the time, a tour guide told ANSA.it.
“At that moment, I was about fifteen meters away with the tourists I was accompanying when I saw a piece of stone fall. I did not see the impact with the person but I heard a woman, I believe his wife, start crying,” the guide said.
“I did not see the person falling to the ground because there were many people in front,” the guide added. “But I saw stone and blood fragments.”
Investigators immediately tried to ascertain whether there was any liability due to a lack of building maintenance. The Opera di Santa Croce, which oversees the monument, says it performed the latest checks a week ago.
Reuters contributed to this report.