Suspected Rome bank robber foiled by tunnel collapse

An Italian hand had to be rescued after being trapped in a collapsed tunnel near the Vatican on suspicion of being part of a gang digging their way to a nearby bank, police said on Friday.

Firefighters spent eight hours digging him up under a road in western 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 hospitalized, he said without giving an update on his condition.

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

For Italian newspapers, however, the motive was clear, noting that the tunnel was found near a bank ahead of the August 15 long weekend, when residents traditionally leave the city and much of Rome empty.

“The gang of holes”, headlined the daily Corriere della Sera, while La Stampa said: “They are digging a tunnel to rob a bank, and one of them is buried underground”.

An AFP journalist present at the scene on Thursday saw the man come out alive on a stretcher, after a day of operations involving dozens of rescuers using mechanical shovels.

The tunnel began under an empty, recently rented store.

“We all thought the people there were renovating the place. So we had no suspicions and we didn’t hear any noise either,” local resident Michèle, who lives in the area, told AFP. same building.