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UNESCO offers help to rebuild Valparaiso historical centre

Friday, February 9th 2007 - 20:00 UTC
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Valparaiso Old City under fire Valparaiso Old City under fire

The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) offered Chile assistance in repairing damage caused by the fire that destroyed part of the historical centre of the port city of Valparaiso last week, killing several people.

"We are in touch with the authorities and will do all we can to help them preserve this outstanding landmark," UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said in a statement, noting that Valparaiso was inscribed on the agency's World Heritage List in 2003. "I remember the city as a place of great beauty, bearing rich testimony to the region's cultural, economic and social history," he added, referring to his visit there at the time. A mission of UNESCO's World Heritage Centre will visit the city in early March to discuss restoration plans with the local authorities. The fire is reported to have been caused by a gas explosion in the historic centre of the colonial city, Chile's main sea port. A remarkable late 19th century building, the Edificio Subercaseaux, a timber and brick construction in the Neo Classical style was burned to the ground, and several other buildings are reported to have collapsed or to have been severely damaged.

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