Art historians staggered by loss from Italian earthquakes

During the past few months, medieval and renaissance art and architecture in Italy have taken a pounding from earthquakes which devasted the country's mountain towns, killing over 20 people and damaging or destroying more than 2000 historic churches and buildings.

Officials for the Italian Ministry of Culture are now tasked with evaluating the damge to historic buildings, sculpture and art works, and collecting the most fragile for preservation and restoration before further damage is done by winter weather. The cost to salvage the country's heritage could run to over an estimated  US$3 billion.