'We’re saving the site', says Austria

“The present emergency measures to secure the tunnel system are taken in order to prevent the further decay of the tunnel system,” says the Austrian Ministry for European and International Affairs.

“They are considered urgent and unavoidable and are based on an expertise by a renowned Professor of the Austrian Mining University in Leoben.

“After the completion of the works by October 2009, more than 1,900 metres of the tunnels shall be preserved, including the so called ‘natural’ tunnel dug by hand by inmates.

“The works have obviously become urgently necessary because imminent danger of destruction of large parts of the tunnel system given the instability of the seven-decades-old tunnels. Regrettably, the company has started the measures without previously informing the public and groups interested in the maintenance of the memorial site.

“The Federal Conservation Service has, however, approved the works as conservatory measures.

“The responsible authorities in Austria will do their best to make sure that accessibility for visitors will be decisively improved.”

Last updated: 4:38pm, July 2 2009