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St. Francis Church Restoration Set at Tens of Millions of Dollars

September 28, 1997| From Times Wire Services

ROME — Art experts said Saturday that it will cost tens of millions of dollars to restore the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi after it was heavily damaged by two earthquakes that struck central Italy on Friday and killed 10 people.

Four of the victims, including two Franciscan monks, were killed by falling debris in the church.

Pope John Paul II said he was saddened by damage to the 13th century basilica, built to honor St. Francis, founder of the Franciscan order.

Workers began clearing rubble from the hundreds of collapsed buildings in the earthquake-hit area, and engineers inspected houses still standing.

Civil protection officials, who have helped set up "tent cities" in the hilltop town of Assisi and in other affected areas, said Saturday that about 7,000 sleeping spaces had been prepared. As scores of aftershocks rippled through the region on Saturday, about 2,000 people in Assisi said they were afraid to be inside a house and were planning to sleep in cars or tents again.

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