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VIDEO: Huge fire breaks out at Rome’s Cinecitta studios

A fire broke out on Monday at Rome's legendary Cinecitta film studios, destroying a set but causing no injuries, emergency services said.

VIDEO: Huge fire breaks out at Rome's Cinecitta studios
A view of the damage caused by the fire at Rome's Cinecitta studios on August 1st, 2022. Photo: Vigili del Fuoco (Italian fire brigade)

Three teams of firefighters were on the site southeast of the Italian capital, which in its heyday was frequented by some of the country’s greatest stars, from Federico Fellini to Sophia Loren.

“A fire has broken out in an area where a set was being decommissioned,” a spokesman for Cinecitta told AFP, adding that nobody was injured.

READ ALSO: Italy is burning – but many wildfires could be prevented

Firefighters said “much of the papier-mache reconstruction has been destroyed” on the affected set, which depicted Renaissance Florence, but that the flames were limited and under control.

Local residents posted photos and video to social media showing thick clouds of smoke above the complex.

The fire disrupted filming of a Charlize Theron movie, the sequel to Netflix film ‘The Old Guard’, according to production coordinator Natalia Barbosa.

She told AFP the fire grew rapidly amid high winds and soaring temperatures and the set was evacuated as a precaution.

“We’ve lost two days of filming,” she said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, although much of Italy is a tinderbox this summer due to heatwaves and a severe drought.

Cinecitta suffered a major fire in August 2007, in a warehouse where the sets of television blockbuster ‘Rome’ were stored, before spreading to other buildings in the vast complex.

Cinecitta – which means ‘city of cinema’ in Italian – has been the backdrop of more than 3,000 films, including 51 Oscar winners.

The studios were opened in 1937 to churn out propaganda for the Fascist government of Benito Mussolini.

They were later used to make such classics as William Wyler’s ‘Ben-Hur’ in 1959 and Fellini’s 1960 ‘La Dolce Vita’.

In recent decades, major productions have become more scarce, although the studios are planning a major makeover using money from the European Union’s post-pandemic recovery fund.

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ROME

‘Bank robber’ rescued in Rome after tunnel collapses

Four people were arrested in Rome after a suspected would-be bank robber was rescued from a tunnel under a road, police said on Friday.

'Bank robber' rescued in Rome after tunnel collapses

An Italian man had to be rescued after becoming trapped in a collapsed tunnel near the Vatican, suspected of being part of a gang burrowing its way to a nearby bank.

Firefighters spent eight hours digging him out from under a road in the west of Rome, before he was finally freed on Thursday evening and taken to hospital.

“Two people from Naples were arrested for resisting a public official and two, from Rome, for damage” to public property, a police spokesman told AFP.

The rescued man, one of the two Romans, remains in hospital, he said without giving an update on his condition.

“We are still investigating, we do not exclude that they are thieves, it is one of the theories,” he said.

For Italian newspapers, however, the motive was clear, with reports noting the tunnel was found near a bank ahead of the August 15th long weekend, when residents traditionally head out of town and much of Rome is left empty.

“The hole gang,” headlined newspapers Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, while La Stampa said: “They dig a tunnel to rob a bank, and one of them is buried underground.”

Other reports referred to the suspected burglar as l’uomo-talpa, or ‘mole man’.

An AFP reporter at the scene on Thursday saw the man brought out alive on a stretcher, after a day-long operation involving dozens of emergency service workers using mechanical diggers.

The tunnel began underneath an empty shop that had recently been rented.

“We all thought that the people there were renovating the place. So we had no suspicions and we did not hear noises either,” a resident, Michele, who lives in the same building told AFP.

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