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Leaning Tower of Pisa Set to Open Next Year

Aired June 16, 2000 - 2:31 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: After a decade of tinkering, Italian engineers are ready to let a few VIPs and some children get a look at their efforts to save the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

CNN's Gayle Young gives us a progress report on the international attraction no longer in danger of falling.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GAYLE YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Engineers have embraced the famed Leaning Tower of Pisa and yanked it back up by a good six inches. The tower, still tethered by cables that are slowly pulling it to a more upright position, will be open this weekend to a few VIPs and schoolchildren.

The internationally beloved tourist attraction has been closed for the past decade because officials feared it was ready to topple. But a team of engineers say the 800-year-old bell tower will be ready to reopen to tourists in exactly one year. The gentle tugging has been so successful that workers will soon start moving earth underneath the tower to shore up its foundation.

That's good news to the residents of Pisa. The tower is the northern Italian city's claim to fame and a national symbol of Italy. A million tourists a year visit the site and it's created a mini- industry that's been hampered by the closure. But there are no plans to completely fix the lean. After all, the "Straight Tower of Pisa" would hardly be worth all the attention.

Gayle Young, CNN, Rome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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