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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Italy Counts Costs Of Double Quake

ASSISI, Italy -- Franciscan friars in the medieval hilltop town of Assisi prepared Monday to bury two of their brothers crushed to death by rubble after twin earthquakes devastated their beloved Basilica of St. Francis.

Three days after the tragedy, the order founded by the gentle patron of Italy who cherished the natural world was still coming to terms with the act of God that killed the friars and ravaged their 13th-century church.

"Today there's just a feeling of sadness among us. Tomorrow will be a time for reflection," said Father Nicola Giandomenico, custodian of the monastery where the two men lived.

The friars, Father Angelo Api, 48, and Polish novice Borowec Zazislaw, 24, were due to be buried in the basilica grounds Monday afternoon.

Pope John Paul, who has expressed his profound grief at the disaster, was sending one of his most senior officials, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, to conduct the funeral mass, the Vatican said.

Augustino Gardin, one of the top three officials of the Franciscan order worldwide, was also expected.

The friars were killed along with two surveyors in the second of Friday's powerful quakes, when two chunks of the basilica's beautifully frescoed vaulted roof crashed down. They had been inspecting damage from the earlier tremor.

The surveyors, Bruno Brunacci, 40, and Claudio Bugiantella, 45, were buried Sunday. Magistrates in the nearby town of Perugia opened an inquiry into the deaths of the four men.

Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro flew to the Umbria and Marche regions of central Italy on Monday to inspect the damage and show the nation's solidarity.

He headed straight for the crippled Basilica that has become a symbol of the disaster which killed 11 people and left a trail of devastation in towns and villages across the region.

"We will continue to stay close to that part of the Italian population which is suffering," Scalfaro said. "They need to know that from the north right down to the most extreme tip of the south, the Italian people are united in their suffering."

Although the most famous Giotto frescoes depicting scenes from the life of St. Francis appeared to have survived, art experts believe parts of ceiling frescoes by Cimabue and the school of Giotto may have been ruined. Officials said 41 percent of homes in the quake-hit areas of Umbria were still empty. Some estimates put the number of buildings affected in the area as high as 80,000.

Some were uninhabitable. The occupants of others were too afraid to return to areas still quivering with after-tremors and camped out overnight on the sides of mountain roads, many of them huddled around camp fires as temperatures dropped.

But elsewhere in the region, life regained a semblance of normality since the first tremor rocked sleeping Italians early Friday morning.

In Foligno, just south of Assisi, where 80 percent of the buildings in the historic center suffered at least minor damage, shops and banks were open as usual.