The World: Terror in the Tagliamento Valley

Tuning into Italian television's Channel 1 one night last week, viewers throughout Italy were treated to a bizarre sight. The time was 9 p.m., Europe's favorite TV hour; on the channel Economist Siro Lombardini was just settling down to discuss the nation's troubled economy. Suddenly chairs, set and people began to tremble. "// terremoto! II terremoto! [Earthquake! Earthquake!]" shouted a frightened cameraman. While thousands looked on in amazement, economist and TV crew made a live, unceremonious departure.

Most of the viewers by then had also begun to feel the tremors from Italy's worst earthquake since 1915. The epicenter was plotted in...

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