two earthquakes in Italy over the last fortnight left about 11 people dead and left an estimated 5,000 homeless. The first quake on September 23 in central Italy, which measured 4.6 on the Richter scale wrecked havoc on several villages. Several monuments are reported to be damaged. The historic basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi has been badly damaged. Part of the church's vaulted roof collapsed in the first quake, killing four people and damaging priceless 13th and 14th century frescoes. A part of an arched doorway of the 13th century church has also collapsed.
A government minister warned that around 40 per cent of Italy's population live in high-risk earthquake zones, and 65 per cent in homes that do not meet minimum anti-earthquake standards.