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(FLORENCE, Italy) -- A small part of the ceiling inside the famous Basilica of the Holy Cross in Florence, Italy, suddenly broke off Thursday, hitting and killing a tourist who was visiting the church with his wife, Italian media reported.
The stone piece, about 6 inches by 6 inches, fell nearly 60 feet after it broke off near the right nave of the church where it had been supporting a beam, according to reports. The man was 52 years old and was from Spain.
The Basilica of the Holy Cross, also known as the Basilica of Santa Croce, is the burial site of Michelangelo, Rossini, Machiavelli and Galileo.
The church was immediately closed as police and firefighters fought to save the man’s life, but he died on the scene, according to local media. Italian reports said the tourist’s wife was near him at the time and witnessed the crash.
“Deeply sorry for the incident at the Basilica of the Holy Cross where a Spanish tourist was killed,” Florence’s mayor, Dario Nardella, tweeted. “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
Tourists continued to line up outside even as the church remained closed and an investigation was taking place, Italian media reported.
A tour guide who was in the church at the time told Italian media that the piece fell near the third chapel on the right side of the transept. He said he did not see the stone hit the man but did see it fall and heard the man’s wife cry out.
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